When the brunch was invented back in 1895 by Guy Beringer, it was done so with the greatest of intentions, and without the foresight of what future generations might do to pervert and debauch this quaint alternative to a heavy Sunday dinner.
Guy made the case that instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a marathon of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served just before noon, that offers a lighter, more cheerful option. “Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting.” Beringer wrote. “It is talk-compelling. It puts you in good temper; it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
Guy Beringer – “Brunch should be a quaint, cheerful Sunday meal that is lighter than the heavy, traditional supper.”
Dubai – “Hold my Shisha.”
I don’t want to talk about what happens at the brunch – we’ve all been to one, and quite frankly it’s been written about by better writers than me. I want to write about what happens before and immediately after a brunch. I’ve split this into four moments based on recent experiences. As usual, I have taken great poetic liberties.
1 – Making the decision.
I hadn’t realised how much organization needs to go into booking a Dubai brunch. The initial suggestion starts as an innocent throwaway comment around a few drinks at someone’s house. Excitement crackles in the air at the mere thought of a brunch. Diaries are opened, and potential dates are thrown around like ideas in an ancient Greek court. Guest lists are discussed in secret whispers on the balcony during cigarette breaks. It becomes very serious, very quickly. Some international peace treaties are agreed upon with less drama.
2 – Choosing the venue.
Once the premise of brunch has been agreed, and the adrenalin has had time to dissipate, the earnest business of selecting the actual venue begins. Apparently, this needs approximately a three month lead time. Larger groups need longer. The official invite arrived in my inbox three and a half months ago, and within a few days, I had received an email newsletter reminding me of the date and had been added to a WhatsApp group chat as well. Choosing the location is far more complicated than you might think, especially when trying to be democratic about it. A few excerpts from the group chat.
“Not there, they have too many carb stations.”
“That brunch has a shitty dessert selection.”
“I’m not allowed to go to that one, not after last time.”
“I can’t wear my fancy heels at that one.”
“That brunch is full of chavs.”
“That one is too posh.”
“That brunch only has eight live cooking stations.”
3 – Arrival time
The morning of the brunch is possibly the most stressful time of the whole experience – almost as stressful as my wedding day. From 9 am onwards, WhatsApp lights up like Satwa during the Diwali festival. Thousands of messages fly back and forth – but by now, there are multiple sub-group chats that have been created, as various factions have formed separate alliances with one another. It is chaos – last-minute fashion issues, a cancellation from that flaky friend Paul invited, Uber on surge pricing, Salem’s still in the shower – these things suddenly become very important – but not as important as the brunch arrival time.
Arrive early, and you risk sitting at an empty table, looking like two overly keen brunch novices. However, arrive too late, and you risk the wrath of others for wasting so much valuable consumption time. The funny thing is, no one wants to commit to what time they will be there. “We’re leaving the house soon” or “we’re on our way,” or “see you there,” are the vague, unhelpful answers you must work with.
As we left the house, The Serb asked if I had left enough food and water for the dog. I have no idea how long she thought we were going to be away for.
4 – The recovery.
The brunch recovery can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days, depending on your levels of consumption. In some rare cases, full recovery never happens – but those occasions can usually be read about in the Daily Mail. Recovery time is also related to age as I have recently noticed.
I woke up at 7:30 pm, alone, on the couch in a complete state of panic. I couldn’t feel my legs; my mouth was as dry as the Empty Quarter, and my belt and the top button of my trousers were unfastened. To add to the horror, wrapped around my wrist was a hospital admittance band. Clearly, something had gone wrong since the chocolate fountain, which was my last lucid memory.
Sitting up straight, checking for any life-threatening injuries, like a missing kidney – I realised that I was not in any immediate danger. The dry mouth was a result of too much time at the Asian station, the unbuttoned trousers a result of too much time at the dessert station, and the hospital band was the brunch band letting the servers know I was only allowed prosecco, not the real stuff.
I can’t wait to do it all over again. I would love to hear your brunch observations. Comment below!