Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mark Bittman Disparages Brunch; Brunch DC Responds

Many big names in the food community have expressed disdain for the meal we like to call Brunch. Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain ("Brunch is punishment block for the B-Team cooks"), Washington City Paper writer "Jule," and even some Hawaiians don't care for the meal.

We now have a new member to add to the brunch-hating crowd: beloved New York Times food writer, cookbook author, blogger, and Minimalist Mark Bittman. I write this with tremendous sadness since I am a big Mark Bittman fan, but it is true, he doesn't like brunch.

Yesterday I attended a panel discussion and lunch at the Center for American Progress featuring Bittman and D.C. Restauranteur José Andrés (of Jaleo, Zaytinya, and Oyamel fame), which discussed Bittman's new book "Food Matters." (The book is Bittman's first formal foray into food activism and he primarily argues that people should cook more and eat less animal products and processed foods, in order to be healthier, save money, and help stop global warming.)

In a brief interview I had with Bittman after the panel, I asked him what he thought of brunch. Bittman replied that he doesn't like brunch and doesn't usually eat it because "brunch is usually a huge fat-bomb." While I credit Bittman for his use of the phrase "fat-bomb" I am shocked and appalled that he would propagate such disparaging and false anti-brunch characterizations.

Unless you exclusively order eggs benedicts (Bittman's How to Cook Everything, page 734) that are heavy on the Hollandaise (p.790) or drink a dozen bloody marys (p. 802), brunch can be a healthy start to your day. Instead Bittman could order an herb frittata (p. 741), or an onion quiche (p. 744), or a bagel with cream cheese and homemade gravlax (pp. 300-1). In fact there are plenty of excellent and healthy brunch ideas (see "Brunches," pp. 810-11).

Next time Bittman's in D.C., I encourage him to try 2 Amys homemade bagels, cream cheese and house-smoked salmon, Rosemary's Thyme's pides, or the Tabard Inn's crab, spinach, and gruyere tart.

Hopefully he will see the error of his ways; in fact, he admitted to enjoying Cafe Atlantico's vegetarian tasting menu brunch this past Sunday. I encouraged him to build on that promising brunch beginning. Soon, perhaps, his next book will be entitled "Brunch Matters."

UPDATE: Bittman replied to me via Twitter: "Half of your examples are fat bombs!" I'm not sure which half he's referring to since I provided three examples, and of the three, only the tart is arguably fat bomby due to the eggs and cheese; but in any event, since when is Bittman concerned about too much fat? These are three delicious (meat-free) brunch options.

1 comment:

Esther said...

Brunch is also two meals in one, theoretically reducing the amount of food consumed overall. I am therefore doing my part to save the world from cow farts with every brunch I eat. In addition, because it is a longer and more social meal, brunch is also less likely to feature over-processed foods.