Posted on: Monday
In no other place is the eager anticipation and ritual of Sunday brunch more greatly appreciated and endorsed than in New York City. On the day of rest, when the banks and the post offices are closed, when the city sleeps in an extra few hours and the streets are eerily quiet during the normal morning rush hour, when church bells echo across the five boroughs periodically throughout the day, New Yorkers roll out of bed and into the nearest cafe for drawn out and overly-indulgent breakfasts with friends. The oft-anticpated ordeal of brunch is more than just a meal, you see; it is an event, right up there in status with Thursday night art openings, Friday night cocktails, and Saturday night dinners out. A sort of mayhem descends upon the restaurant world each and every sunday during the New York brunch hours of late morning until early evening, involving long waits and endless beverages, friends and families and lovers squeezed into tiny tables, stories and adventure recaps from the night and week before, the twenty-pound Sunday edition of the New York Times being passed around from table to table, and laughter and people-watching and fantastic food all around. No matter how stressful life may seem or how many things you have lingering on your to-do list, you take the time to invite a few friends, or to grab the family, and head out to Sunday brunch. Such is the way of the city, quite simply. It is a ritual I was eager to embrace upon finding myself in this great big metropolis, and one which I hope to continue to embrace with my children.
Of course, being both a mother of two and a veteran of the restaurant world, I know that the combination of small children, overcrowded spaces, and endless bloody-mary's for likely hungover patrons is not an ideal situation, ritual or not. So Gaby and I skipped sleeping in (who am I kidding? Sleeping in hasn't exactly been an option for us since little Lou was born..) and arrived at the restaurant just as they were setting out the brunch menus. We decided to take advantage of the fleeting last days of non-freezing weather and chose a spot with outdoor seating, as we knew that the fresh air would keep the kids happy and the street noise would undoubtedly muffle enthusiastic squeals. Biet was so excited and animated as we ordered our coffee and eggs Benedict. She inched the bottle of ketchup nearer and nearer to her place-setting and closely watched the waitress, waiting for her scrambled eggs to arrive. She has begun to really relish having conversations, especially over meals. She'll sit down and look up eagerly and say, "Ok, let's talk!", then proceed to tell stories about fictional characters, and about places she's been and place's she's going. Sometimes she'll recap everything she's seen since the moment she woke up that morning, and sometimes she'll tell completely made-up tales of dancing and singing in the rain. Then she'll pause, turn to me, and say, "Now Mama, you talk!". I absolutely adore the way her mind works.
After our food was finished, a half bottle of ketchup had been dispensed on Biet's plate, and the bunch of us had had a good long-winded brunch discussion, we sat back and relaxed for a minute and watched the people and cars go by. Biet unwrapped her lollipop that the man at the deli had so kindly given her (the girl has an uncanny way of charming a lollipop out of almost anyone who has one stashed away!), Lucien basked in the cool morning sun and, as always, played adoringly with his sister, and Gaby and I lingered for as long as we could at our corner table overlooking the park. Then we paid our check, let Biet leave the tip, and made our way across the street to the playground. Brunch these days is certainly quite different than it used to be, but the ceremonial morning feast celebrating the close of the weekend is one I am so happy and proud to share with my children.
Also, its pretty nice to have someone else to the cooking and cleaning every once in awhile. :)
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