What is it about brunch?
Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? No it’s brunch and it’s fast overtaking breakfast, lunch and dinner as the most popular meal of the day. For the last 10 years, brunch has fast become the preferred weekend meal for many Londoners of all ages. Weekend sights of morning queues have become common, with cafes, restaurants and bars launching brunches with different twists and angles, eagerly waiting for the hipsters, the families and the birthday groups to come and christen their venues.
So where did this phenomenon come from and why is it so popular?
Contrary to popular belief, brunch actually is not an American invention. The term ‘brunch’ was first coined by English writer Guy Beringer who suggested a late morning new meal, served around noon, to combat a hangover. He actually proposed this concept in an essay penned in 1895 dedicated to brunch, although his combination of tea, marmalade and toast is slightly sparser than most London hotels continental breakfasts.
Brunch didn’t really grow in popularity until our friends across the pond latched onto the trend, and of course, supersized it. Brunch became a more glamorous affair, By 1939 the New York Times declared Sunday a two-meal day and by the 1960s specific dedicated cookbooks were released about brunch and by the 90s (largely aided by Sex in the City) American’s started brunching on Saturdays too.
History of our favourite brunch dishes
“To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.” W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
The traditional full English breakfast is a centuries old British breakfast tradition, one that can trace its roots back to the early 1300's. In one form or another, the tradition of a uniquely English breakfast is one that has been proudly sustained over the centuries by different generations of British society
The Full English Breakfast (AKA The Fry Up) ... The 'common' full English breakfast is a substantial meal consisting of back bacon, eggs, British sausage, baked beans, fried tomato, fried mushrooms, black pudding, fried and toasted bread.
In 1894, Lemuel Benedict, a Wall Street broker, who was suffering from a hangover, ordered“some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs, and a hooker of hollandaise sauce” at the Waldorf Hotel in New York.
The Bellini was invented sometime between 1934 and 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. He named the drink the Bellini because its unique pink colour reminded him of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini.
Pancakes have been around for centuries as a favourite staple in many cultures’ diets. They began over 30,000 years ago during the Stone Age. Researchers have found pancakes in the stomach of Otzi the Iceman, human remains dating back 5,300 years.
In ancient Greece and Rome, pancakes were made from wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk. Ancient Greek poets, Cratinus and Magnes wrote about pancakes in their poetry. Shakespeare even mentions them in his famous plays. During the English Renaissance pancakes were flavoured with spices, rosewater, sherry, and apples.
The name “pancake” started during the 15th century but became standard in 19th century America. Previously, they were called indian cakes, hoe cakes, johnnycakes, journey cakes, buckwheat cakes, buckwheats, griddle cakes, and flapjacks. Early American pancakes were made with buckwheat or cornmeal. Thomas Jefferson loved them so much he sent a special recipe to his home town from the White House.
Omelette Arnold Bennett
This magnificent omelette of fresh eggs and smoked haddock was the favourite of English writer Arnold Bennett. Bennett resided at The Savoy for a period in his career, and is said to have written the novel Imperial Palace during his residency. The novel is based on day to day events at a large hotel, and is said to be based on life in The Savoy. It was published in 1930, the year before Arnold Bennett’s death. Omelette Arnold Bennett still features on the menu of The Savoy Grill.
Five things that make brunch so great…?
You can eat breakfast foods at any time of the day
Drinking before 12pm becomes acceptable
It’s efficient: you’re combining two meals into one
It’s the best cure for a hangover
There’s a dish to suit everyone, even the fussiest of eaters
B&H Garden Room launched brunch on Saturday 2nd February 2019.