Diana Henry prepares brunch for a hungry bunch
Brunch. It’s having a moment. Some cultural commentators see it as evidence of the millennials’ rejection of adulthood (the weekends are now for getting up late then drinking cocktails and eating eggs and pancakes all day). I’m not a millennial, but I do love brunch (and am not averse to drinking cocktails at 11am). Drop me in New York and I will go out for brunch every day (I never walk so fast as when I’m on my way to Locanda Verde). I like the relaxed nature of brunch, that there are no rules, that it’s served from breakfast time until four in the afternoon, and that you get classics you love ( just put those eggs Benedict down and let me pierce the yolk).
A restaurant, though, isn’t the only place to have brunch, or even the best (unless you want eggs Benedict – I’m not making hollandaise sauce for eight). Chefs famously despise it (they’ve already done a late service the night before and now they have a dining room full of people with hangovers). It is perfectly suited to entertaining at home, especially if you’re an anxious cook. People have a relaxed attitude to brunch. There are no huge ex- pectations. They might get bagels, smoked salmon and a jugful of mimosas, or they might get some sprawling Middle Eastern feast (and anything in between). Food writers are always saying ‘keep it simple’ (while exhorting you to cook 10 dishes that need recherché ingredients), but brunch is the perfect meal for doing a few easy dishes yourself and then buying everything else.
It can be American, but doesn’t have to be (they didn’t invent brunch, an Englishman did). The world oéers some great alternatives – I didn’t know whether to oéer Indian, Scandinavian or North African dishes here – and summer is the perfect time to throw a brunch get-together, as fresh fruit can be central and looks sumptuous. In the end, I went for a Turkish-Greek/ Middle Eastern-type spread. Make the main dishes and buy Arab flatbread or Greek sesame bread, good yogurt, honey, feta, tomatoes and maybe some hot pickles and olives. Add ripe melons – a mix of colours is good – or baked apricots. Invite a crowd and have it in the garden if the weather’s good. Brunch is the easiest, most relaxed meal of the lot. And what is life if you can’t, once in a while, drink cocktails all day?