When did it start? When did people think their mother would enjoy waiting in line for overpriced, unremarkable food in the middle of the day with dozens of other suckers slurping bottomless mimosas made with cheap sparkling wine?
I speak, of course, of the national delusion called Mother’s Day brunch.
Brunch on any day of the week is a sign of our moral decay. It’s for people so lazy or ambivalent that they can’t decide whether they want to eat breakfast or lunch. In their sloth, they shuffle out the door, too inept to cook for themselves, and stand around wasting more of the day to eat overpriced eggs and toast. By the time it’s over, it’s mid-afternoon and the prime hours of your precious weekend are over—and you’re $40 poorer for it.
Commit! Seize the day! Choose breakfast or lunch, run with it and get on with your life while you still can.
There’s another side to brunch diners don’t see. It’s the view from the kitchen. I was once a cook in an upscale San Francisco restaurant. As Mother’s Day drew near, a special kind of dread spread across the kitchen. Mother’s Day brunch was an interminable amateur hour filled with inane special requests like egg-white omelettes (we called them “beached whales” because they resembled dead sea mammal carcasses); gallons of oozing, mucilaginous hollandaise sauce; panicked waiters; and the sickly sweet smell of maple syrup that seems to haunt your olfactory lobes for hours after you’d left the restaurant.
Mother’s Day brunch was also a time for dark existential questions. Is this the best I can do with a graduate degree? Where did I go wrong? Why quit drinking now?
Brunch is also an opportunity for restaurants to sling out hundreds of plates of overpriced food that you could have made yourself for a fraction of the cost in a sliver of the time you spent waiting for your $18 eggs Benedict and fruit cup.
This is not what mothers deserve. You love your mother, don’t you? Of course you do. So here’s a better idea. Make breakfast for her instead. How about French toast and homemade sausage? Save her from brunch and she’ll love you back.
Challah bread loaf (I like the Village Bakery’s poppy seed challah)
1 c. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter
Cut the bread into thick slices. Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl, and pour batter into a shallow baking dish. Soak the bread on both sides.
Melt butter in a heavy skillet, cook toast in batches until golden brown, and serve.
1 pound ground pork
1/2 c. minced yellow onion
1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each garlic powder, paprika and black pepper
Mix all ingredients with your hands in a bowl, and form into round patties. Fry until browned, and serve.