Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things I Miss: Episode 1: Brunch

Something was missing from my Sunday mornings. I couldn't quite figure it out. I did a mental checklist. Hangover? Check. Obscene laziness? Check. Book and magazine reading in bed? Check. It took a couple months, but I finally nailed it. Brunch! There is no brunch!

In Japan, breakfast is not usually a public affair. A typical morning meal is eaten at home and consists of rice, miso soup, grilled fish and pickled vegetables. The rice might be topped with a raw egg or, horror of horrors, natto: fermented soybeans with the consistency of snot and the smell of rotting kittens (I know, I'm sorry, but doesn't that sound like it would be the worst and the saddest smell?). Natto is the antithesis of brunch. Natto is bad. Brunch is so so good. There is really no better way to spend a weekend afternoon. All you need is a collection of your favorite messy haired friends and a plate of fluffy biscuits suffocating under a healthy (I do not use this adjective literally) blanket of sausage gravy. Extra points for a Formica table, bottomless coffee and delirious fits of laughter inspired by lack of sleep and the events of the night before.

I brought up the topic of brunch with Yoko, my BFIJ (Best Friend In Japan), who agreed that something had to be done immediately, if not sooner. We would have to forgo the Formica, the bottomless coffee, the biscuits and gravy, the restaurant, the pretty much everything I mentioned above, but damn it! There would be brunch!

In recent weeks, it seems all we do is have brunch. We are good at brunch. Last week we whipped up some excellent pumpkin spice pancakes, but there is one particularly simple meal that has us smitten. First, split a baguette of crusty bread. Then send a smear of soft butter, studded with chopped garlic, down both sides. Next, sprinkle with shredded cheese. Japan has no respect for cheese, so we are forced to use a flavorless and processed pre-shredded "white cheese." You should use a mix of freshly shredded Parmesan and mozzarella or Havarti or Gorgonzola or one of the other delicious cheeses that you are lucky enough to have access to, you bastard. Pop the bread into the toaster oven to melt and crisp around the edges. Meanwhile, fry some sunny side up eggs with salt and pepper. Make sure the yokes are nice and runny so you can stab them with your fork, let the velvety orange mess drip all over your bread, and make noises while eating them that are more appropriate for the bedroom than a brunch. Oh, but don't eat yet. You forgot the fresh basil, silly. Tear some up and scatter it across the bread before topping with your perfect egg. Shake a little Tapatio over the top, serve with a fruit salad, and you're in the business of brunch. Take that, natto.


  1. Kudos and huzzah on achieving brunch!

    When I try to say "BFIJ" out loud it sounds like "beefage."

  2. Oh W2. Brunch misses you as well! I am writing with a full belly after a 2 hour Sunday brunch under my belt. Brunch is the best! I will have to try your baguette brunch and report to you how it is with the "good" cheese.

  3. Egg and bread - perfection really. Whenever I make an egg sandwich I feel slightly guilty about making so little effort, but why do more when perfection is so easily obtainable.

  4. BFIJ - it's what's for dinner.

  5. I can sympathize! Brunch is my FAVORITE and Japanese food just doesn't sound good in the morning. When we were there the hostel had instant coffee (so-so) but we did find that we loved the deep orange yokes in the eggs. So, eggs on bread with instant coffee...not the same, but it did the job!