The first course of any good brunch must be humble pie. This middle-class midday-meal has become such a symbol of posing, preening urban smuggery, of all-day, Americanised, mass mastication, that it is difficult to indulge without adding an apologetically ironic embellishment to every dig of the fork.
Tales about the origins of brunch encapsulate its uniquely revolting combination of insalubrious idleness and elitism. Some believe it sprung from nineteenth-century English toffs, who, having magnanimously freed their servants for the Sabbath, developed a taste for an all-day buffet, which also conveniently gave them a chance to parade their colonial cornucopia of lavish global nosh. New York’s Morning Sun reporter Frank Ward O’Malley claimed it was based on the eating habits of your typical late working, late rising, halitosic newspaper hack. I like to imagine, as I suck on a perfumed slice of Honeydew dressed in boyfriend jeans, moth-eaten cashmere and a bowler hat, that I present a suitably hateful hybrid of the two.
By eating brunch, we signal thus: ‘my evening was so exhaustingly glamorous that I have only just emerged from bed. I cannot cook for myself, as my oven is for keeping Manolos in. But underneath it all I am a boisterous, unpretentious pleb. See how I let the HP from my bacon butty dribble down my chin!’ It takes a real attention to detail to achieve such a superb level of self-mythologising affectation. Here’s how it’s done.
Take your time. Rumbustiously relax, with stretches, sighs and mutters about how blissful this all is. Steal from other people’s plates. Imagine you are in a Richard Curtis film, and act to script. This is most definitely the time for smugly self-conscious, obliviously bourgeois mutual congratulation via the medium of Hollandaise and noontime alcohol. Begin with a small black coffee. Pile a bowl high with jewelled berries; spoon on some Greek yoghurt, stiff as cheese. Order a Bloody Mary. Order two. Pick at a syrupy pancake, just a piece. But whatever you do, leave room for Eggs Benedict. Nothing is more consummately brunch than the famous Waldorfian dish. In an infantile meal that is already squelching with soft textures, soused in sugar and salt, Eggs Benedict reigns triumphant with a primal flavour fusion of breast milk and brawn.
Parisians disapprove of brunch. They are too busy still having sex from the night before – or writing languorous, hungover philosophy – to publicly stuff their post-party faces with lukewarm Americanised fat. The Académie Française even tried to ban the ugly, barking word from the Gallic lexicon. All of which is exactly why The Lizard Lounge, a warm and woody American bar-diner in the tight-white-jeans-and-Gauloises district of Le Marais, is the perfect place to indulge. To enjoy the full pretentious pleasure of brunch, you must swallow your shame along with your sausage. So reserve the table by the window. Noisily parade your guileless gluttony and youthful sloth before those chicer and sleeker than you. Linger wantonly, tip liberally and lumber out laughing into the darkening air.
Then quietly slink home to a cool, dark room, and spend the evening trying not to hurl.