"I'm a country bumpkin – what exactly is brunch and why is it so popular nowadays. Is lunch over?"
This was the question posed by a texter into Sean Moncrieff's show on Newstalk today – but while the presenter did his level best to answer what should have been a simple question, it wasn't quite as easy as it sounded.
And when a broadcaster of Moncrieff's calibre can't come up with a concise and clear answer to a question, the likelihood is that there is no concise and clear answer.
So that got us thinking: what makes brunch a brunch? It's more complicated than you might think... but we've broken it down for you.
1. It has to be served after midday – ideally between 1pm and 2.30pm
This is a highly contentious one, and one that's divided the office here in Lovin Dublin on several occasions. The definition suggested by the breakdown of the word – 'breakfast' and 'lunch' – would suggest a time that falls in between early morning and early afternoon.
In reality, brunch tends to kick off at some time around midday (which is basically lunchtime) and runs until around four – with the optimum serving time being somewhere between 1pm and 2.30pm. And that's final.
2. The dish itself needs to tick certain boxes
This is quite simple – it's all about the eggs and sauce.
At LEAST one person at the table must have hollandaise sauce on their plate, which at LEAST half of the occupants of the table must have eggs on their plate.
3. The setting has to feel like a pub in the daytime – but with great food
Unless you're somewhere super-packed or super-popular, brunch sittings MUST allow a bit of time to chill the fuck out and have a drink and a chat once the food has gone.
The tunes should be loud, and there should ideally be a queue at the door. Just to make you feel all smug once you're inside.
4. You can't get away with just a water... or a coffee
Okay, we're not going to tell you that you HAVE to imbibe a bitta booze – particularly if you've been out the night before, as some 98% of brunch eaters have been, according to a statistic I just invented.
But at the VERY least, you need to get yourself a virgin cocktail or a notionsy juice drink to go with it. Water ain't gonna cut it.
5. It has to be a weekend
Yes, we know some places serve brunch all through the week – and yes, we know this may be controversial with those who work weekends.
But sorry. That just doesn't count.
6. It has to distinguish itself from breakfast and lunch
No sausages, rashers, fried eggs or pudding and ABSOLUTELY NO BAKED BEANS.
And similarly, no sandwiches.
7. And you've gotta at least look at the dessert menu
Because it's the weekend, remember?