Quotes

Oct 2, 2015

Brunner. It's a Thing: Brebiro

THE STORY:

I dub it "brunner". The French, however, call it "le brunch", even though they have no idea why they are calling it "le brunch" and do not actually understand that it's a combination of the words "breakfast" and "lunch". I have no idea why they are calling it "le brunch" either, for different reasons: in general, the restaurants start serving it after noon -- sometimes well after noon -- till almost dinner time. Therefore "brunner" (breakfast, lunch, dinner) it is.


Do you brunch? Brunchez-vous? Yes, brunch is such a hot trend here in Paris, it has become its own conjugatable verb. And not only that, its own website, too: oubruncher.com (meaning "wheretobrunch.com"). What to brunch is an easier question -- brunches are almost always American-style combinations of sweet bready breakfast foods, juices, hot drinks, and fruit with a small nod to something more substantial (eggs or a small portion of meat) for the "unch" part of the word. That doesn't mean you can't find one that serves heartier fare, but if it gets too much more savory and meal-like, it wouldn't be "le brunch" now would it? To the French, it makes sense that they serve American food for an American meal concept.



That may be the only part of "le brunch" that makes much sense. Breakfast food at 3pm? It makes us all happy, but I can hardly pretend it's actually my breakfast. If you think that the only time the French have bastardized their meal names is with "le brunch", however, you would be sadly mistaken. The words for the French meals that you know are already bastardized and illogical beyond belief.

For instance, take "déjeuner" which is "lunch" and which means, literally, to "break the fast". Déjeuner used to be breakfast. Then in the time of King Louis XIV, the decadent sun king, he and the nobility started partying harder at night and sleeping later in the morning until finally they weren't breaking their fast till noon. This was fine for the nobility who could sleep away the mornings but less so for all the servants and farmers and peasants -- the 99% of the 18th century. So the 99% resorted to having a meal called "petit-déjeuner" -- "the little breaking of the fast" -- in the morning, while waiting for the official breaking of the fast at noon.

Before that, when déjeuner actually was the breaking of the fast (and how appropriate: I'm writing this on Yom Kippur), the meal at noon was called the dîner. This makes sense, as they would have had their big meal of the day and truly dined then. Then the last meal of the day was called the "souper" (like our supper, but soupier) because they would normally have taken a smaller meal in the evening. I say last meal, but when I was a camp counselor in France, we had a huge snack -- almost a meal -- around 11pm which is sometimes called "le cinquième repas" ("the 5th meal"), and if you're wondering where the 4th meal is, it's the universally accepted concept of "le goûter" ("the snack") around 4pm.

Nowadays there is no souper, and diner is at night, and the tradition of calling them petit-déjeuner and déjeuner persist (at least in France. I'm told the Swiss are more logical. Logically). But that doesn't mean the French can't figure out something new to make more complicated than it should be, and that is the concept of brunch, which should be between breakfast and lunch, but is instead between lunch (called "breakfast" in French) and dinner. This is probably because the Parisians, in the grand tradition of Louis XIV, like to sleep really late on the weekends.

So dine like the French and live like nobility! Break your fast at noon, even if you've only been fasting for 3 hours since your small breaking of the fast at 9am. Then go off and enjoy your late morning brunch in the late afternoon, at the time of the goûter, so that you can ruin your appetite for dinner.

THE CHEESE: Brebiro

I am happy to stumble across any new cheese at a market -- it's getting harder and harder for me to do -- but especially one where they're willing to give slice me a free sample. After trying this and a couple others from this cheese-seller, my mom (who is visiting) asks, "Don't you feel obligated to buy something after you've tasted?" Well, let me tell you that after 500 cheeses, I really don't. I simply smile, take my photos, ask my questions, and move on.


I'm particularly happy not to be obliged to buy the Brebiro, more fully (but redundantly) called Brebiro pur Brebis, because I don't love it. It's fine -- a raw sheeps' milk cheese made in the Pyrénées Atlantiques, but I don't find it special. It's a mellow, medium-strength, sheep cheese with just a hint of sweetness and tang. I expected more tang seeing as how this cheese was created in 1984, when the Société des Caves et des Producteurs Réunis de Roquefort created this cheese as a cross between a regular hard brebis (sheep cheese) and a more pungent sheep cheese, Roquefort.

THE CONNECTION:

Like "brunch" or "brunner" ("brupper"? "brinner"? "linner"? "lupper"?), Brebiro is a newly invented word made up by combing other words and sounds -- "brebis" and "Roquefort"

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