Few trends in the culinary world are more controversial than brunch. Booze-fueled, Hollandaise sauce-drenched, and forever labeled as "basic," the meal is at once lauded for its brazen, mid-morning drunkenness, and derided as the latest symbol of white, millennial privilege and American gluttony. It takes a special kind of menu—one famously filled with frittatas, Bloody Marys, and buckets of bottomless mimosas—to inspire an endless array of Pintrest boards, as well as a Black Lives Matter-affiliated protest movement.
Brunch's PR problem can perhaps be traced back to Anthony Bourdain, the chef, traveler, and bad boy bon vivant whose 2000 memoir, Kitchen Confidential, sought to expose the dark underbelly of the cooking world. In one of its more vivid passages, the book portrays brunch as little more than a money making scheme, with restaurant owners preying on unsuspecting customers by way of weeks-old ingredients and B-team line cooks.
"Brunch is not a 'trend,'" Bourdain would write nearly 15 years after the book's debut. "It's a profit center."
Since Bourdain stoked the flames of debate in the early Aughts, brunch has become a cultural touchstone in American cities, with poets, rappers, actors, and newspapers picking apart the meals merits and faults over the years. From Maya Angelou and Kendrick Lamar, to Lena Dunham and Homer Simpson, brunch remains a contentious muse in popular culture.