Life in Italy is a State of Permanent Brunch

The first time I saw a blood orange I told Kerry that I thought her fruit was rotten. Now I think they’re beautiful.

I’d like to go on record.  Today, April 3, 2011, I, Madeleine Corey DeWitt, developed a theory (spoiler alert: it’s the title of the post):

Life in Italy is a state of permanent brunch.

Please follow along while I defend my thesis, and, with any luck, earn a laurel wreath to wear atop my head after (it’s graduation season around here.  they have cool traditions).

Let’s break down the basics of brunch.

I. Timing: At it’s most basic level, we think of “brunch” as the meal to be had between breakfast and lunch.  Yet, that is actually irrelevant to the timing of the meal.  Brunch can commence any time between 10 (thanks Chi Omega Saturday kitchen!) and 3.  Once you hit 4, you’re pushing it and should probably just find a happy hour.  But, it’s not unreasonable to schedule a brunch to begin at 3, an hour well after one would normally eat LUNCH (let alone breakfast), on most other days.  Hence, while the word brunch is an amalgam of breakfast and lunch, in terms of hour or the day, it need not fall between them.  Just, you know, before nightfall.

II. Content: Brunch food has some good old stalwarts (waffles, eggs benedict, quiche, etc).  But, truthfully, you can have anything you want for brunch.  Let’s explore: at dinner, you will find minimal variation among the dining choices of you and your companions.  If you’re at a dinner party, you’re all eating the same thing.  If you’re at a restaurant, there will be a very obvious theme, or some kind of chef’s vision permeating your plates. Sure, it might be a restaurant that serves breakfast for dinner, but you’re still all eating scrambled eggs with bottarga (side note: recipe idea?) But eat at the same place for brunch, and it’s a grab bag.  Chocolate chip pancakes for me, burger for you, chicken salad for our friend sitting in the corner.  It doesn’t matter what you eat for the meal.  It matters that you’re at at brunch. Because…

III. Brunch is not a meal, it is a state of being.  If points A and B have taught us nothing (and that is extremely likely), it’s that brunch stretches beyond definition.  It is not  defined by what you eat or when you eat it, brunch is a description of a general activity in which you partake with friends.  It is a state of enjoyment and relaxation and companionship.  One never suggests grabbing “a quick brunch on the go.”  No.  One might eat a bagel on the way to the subway, down a sandwich at your desk, or even meet friends for a quick dinner before (insert future event here).  But never brunch.  It is not solitary, silent, nor speedy.  It is slow, it is indulgent, and it only exists in groups of two or more.  I don’t care if you’re eating eggs benedict at noon on a Sunday with a mimosa in one hand and scone in the other.  This is not brunch.  It might be a very good meal, and you might be perfectly content not sharing it, but it’s not brunch.

IV.  So, let’s define brunch.  It is a circumstance of enjoyment.  It is a time of indulgence and companionship.  It is letting the day pass as it passes, eating what you want, and surrounding yourself with conversation and interest.  And what is the Italian lifestyle?  Or, at the very least, my Italian lifestyle?  It is communal, it is indulgent.  It is spending five hours at a dinner table.  Or spending four hours preparing the meal. It is walking outside with a gelato on a sunny Sunday because that’s what you do and that’s what you want, regardless of the calorie count of gelato or the absence of sunscreen on your face.  It is riding your bike to an ancient ruin and having a refreshing glass of prosecco to cool down after the ride.  It is spending time together while partaking in an activity that is enjoyable to all.  Living in Italy is the pursuit of enjoyment.  Thus, life IS enjoyment.  Brunch is nothing more than a word that describes an enjoyable state of being with friends while the sun shines and there’s food around.  Thus, if brunch equals happiness and  life in Italy = enjoyment and enjoyment and happiness are essentially synonyms, by the transitive property of bacon, Life in Italy is a Permanent State of Brunch.  QED.  Lawyered.  Etc.

And, since you asked, here are a few prep photos from today’s Strawberry Pancakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream-Bacon-Fruit Salad-French Country Omelette-French City Omelette-Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice-with an Arancini dessert and Melanzane Pie Appetizer-aka the inspiration for this post BRUNCH.

Pancakes, eggs and orange juice. The holy trinity of brunch.

I cut the bacon.



  1. Gorgeous photos. I love how differently the blood oranges look than the ones you find in the U.S. I wonder how they compare in taste. I believe a trip to Italy is in order.

  2. new camera? photos look awesome outside of the bacon. although on the issue of pig flesh did you know that Chipotle carnitas are only from pigs raised outdoors and without antibiotics….unlike the most common, factory farm sources of pig. Chipotle is amazing. but i would guess italy is pretty good in the food quality department.

  3. also- how does maddie d’s fresh squeezed Italia version compare with the SoCal version?

  4. i mean, comparing blood orange juice to so cal orange juice is like comparing apples and…oh…wait.

  5. If I was ever out with someone at brunch and they ordered chicken salad I’d stop being their friend. I like to think that even though you used it as an example, you agree.
    Reference: beef and cheddar empanadas re: 2009; english muffin with jelly re: 2009.

  6. @marko i think the fact that the person ordering the chicken salad was referred to as “our friend in the corner” is indicative enough of their status in my eyes.
    and, unless you recall better than i, the english muffin was eaten sans jelly but with a cup of black coffee.

  7. I kinda love this post. A lot. I think my new ambition in life is to live in a constant state of brunch. I need to move to Italy!

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