America · Vegetarian food

An American Brunch

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Breakfast for Ashwin. I felt ambitious one morning!

Back in 2011when I arrived in New York and began my journey in this new country, one of the most fascinating meals to me was brunch. It’s eaten only on weekends and is popular among the cool, laid-back people. The very mention of the word ‘brunch’ conjures up lazy Sundays. I was exposed to a completely different meaning of the word.

Over the years I have learned that if I am asked how I spent Saturday afternoon, my answer had to be, “Oh, we went to a small bistro around the corner and lazed in the sun with our mimosas.” Automatically I’m on cool list. Of course if I added, “Ashwin and I hung out with some friends before we got brunch, ” we would jump to the very top of the ‘hip couple’ list. You know, the list you make at parties when you casually scan it for interesting people.

“If another couples made ‘plans’ with them; to eat brunch, they are definitely worth getting to know.” I am beginning realize it is a clique for ‘laid back’ couples!

Basically, Brunch is the key to get in.

Now, if my husband and I wanted to get to know a new couple we met at a party, we can’t just tell them the truth, “Oh we were out all day exploring the Natural History Museum!” I imagine it would warrant us ‘geek’ status. Neither could we tell them that we aimlessly walked around Manhattan, unless of course we didn’t really like them and wanted to be cast aside as people without any ‘real’ plans!

Brunch, in my limited understanding of America, is a meal encompassing breakfast and lunch. But I never skipped !! So could I “do” brunch, (like it is an activity to partake in)? Besides, I do not eat eggs or omelets, so what’s in it for me? Scrambled tofu?! Another thing about ‘this’ brunch that makes me anxious is, since the meal is neither lunch nor dinner, I don’t know what time of day it’s suppose to happen.

 

Photo Aug 10, 11 45 59 AM
Ate breakfast. Decided to make brunch at home. Ate it at 12:30- for lunch!

Being anxious about something that’s supposed to be the pinnacle of chilling out, I can safely say that, my poor husband and I are never going to be those laid-back couples that enjoy a weekend brunch with friends.

It’s not like I did not eat Brunch in India. I did. But it meant something very very different! Brunch was a basically a name given to a heavy weekend meal, most often a buffet, which began after 12 and went only until 3p.m., giving you enough time to do justice to the amount you spent at a fancy five star hotel. Prices were additional if you wanted the all you can drink option with the buffet.

I must say, the spread was quite exceptional! American breakfast foods such as waffles and muffins to the Indian ones of Aloo Paratha and Poori, all lay waiting to be devouvered. Pretty much everything from the restaurants lunch menu and more would be part of the buffet spread. Everything from the North Indian Channa Masala to sambhar rice from the South was part of the meal. Chinese noodles and Italian pizzas made their appearance. The buffets also added a selection, for ‘foreigners’ visiting India, which was deliciously cheesy and mildly spicy. Appetizers in the likes of paneer tikka to cheese balls and bread were served at the table. By the time you got to dessert, Tiramisu to Gulab Jammun, every imaginable Indian and Western dessert you could think of was there to please your palette. It was quite a meal!

Not being able to do much in the scotching Indian heat, napping thereafter was a given.

A weekend well spent!

 

In a completely different concept of dining half way across the world, restaurants here have separate breakfast, lunch, dinner and ‘brunch’ menus. Often the lunch menu isn’t served on the weekends, even at lunch time! Instead the brunch menu is served from 8 a.m. until 3p.m.; after which it was straight to the dinner menu.

This new meal boasts of varieties of food that are largely “eggy”, cheesy or sweet. Being a vegetarian since birth, and a having grown up in a health fanatic household, I rarely find food that appeals to me on most weekend menus. Sweet pancakes, French toast and waffles can be part of my meal, most likely after I am done eating my bread or potatoes. But to have either encompassing my entire meal seems almost alarming.

Besides, I am still not able to get myself to drink in the middle of the day. It makes me sleepy, lazy and not in the frame of mind for anything else. Instead I would much rather spring out of bead early on the weekends and go explore the city. Two days are just not enough to do all the wonderful things that Manhattan has to offer. I am not about to lose out on this precious time that could be spent enjoying the parks and markets of the city or events and museums, being buzzed on Bellinis.

I guess I still have a way to go before I learn to chill with a mid day drink.

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Finishing up lunch. Different from Brunch!

“Let’s go get brunch at that café on Grove Street,” suggested my sister in law, when she came to meet me, on my first weekend in the Unite States. That was probably my first exposure to the American concept of what this word meant. Excited to eat a delicious spread and satisfy my hunger, I was rather surprised to find only a choice of omelets, huevos rancheros, pancakes and cheesy enchiladas on the menu. My lunch, that day, in spite of having already ingested breakfast, consisted of a croissant and tea. Who knew that this precedent for the o’ so fashionable meal was going to become my norm in this brunch loving country!

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Waffles anyone?

Happy Sunday Brunching Y’all! 😉

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My Take:
Brunch In America:

  1. Definitely try food from the brunch menu. Most people seem to enjoy it.
  2. Get into the spirit and laze around with a drink and some food on a Sunday afternoon.
  3. I have found places that have vegetarian/vegan brunch. They are pretty good. If you are not into eggs, they still have a lots of options.
  4. I was not a huge fan of scrambled tofu, or anything that is a substitute for something that is originally made with eggs or meat. But when i made the scramble, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
  5. Ordering a bunch of sides is acceptable.
  6. If you really want a good heavy brunch buffet, there are several ‘fancy’ restaurants that offer it. I was amazed at an Easter Brunch I was at. It reminded me of the buffet I was talking about. 🙂
This post first appeared in Feb 2016, but was made private and moved to my PlantsAndGrains blog.
But in an attempt to compile all my work into one location, I am reposting it here.
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