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Shawn Micallef shares his beef with brunch

Shawn Micallef critiques "the brunching class" and unpacks the layered meanings of the late morning meal.
Listen18:35
Toronto-based writer Shawn Micallef joins guest host Stephen Quinn to discuss The Trouble with Brunch, his provocative new book which critiques our contemporary food obsession and status anxiety. Micallef unpacks the layered meanings of the late morning meal, and explores what "the brunching class" can teach us about contemporary culture and politics

"Brunch is this performance of leisure. It's supposed to be fun, it's supposed to be an enjoyable time with your friends, and sometimes it is, but the way it actually plays out in big cities is not actually leisurely -- it's this really stressful, trendy thing," Micallef tells Stephen.


While brunch is not the most expensive or frivolous "performance of leisure," Micallef focuses on it as a means to explore our current society because of its ever-growing popularity.

"[Brunch] is such a big part of people's identity - people put it in dating profiles, 'like to brunch' - it's such a marker of someone's being that it was a really fun and cheeky way to jump into a class discussion," he says.


Micallef sees a gap between how many are brunching and how many are actually part of the middle class.

"Performing leisure conspicuously [...] is sort of a demonstration that you are so set that you can spend all this time, you can waste all this time, because it's okay. But when you look at our work lives, we're running out of time and we're always working. So the two things clash," Micallef says.

"It's like a keeping up with the Joneses, everybody brunches."

Is brunch a wasteful form of conspicuous consumption that should be avoided at all costs? Is it an enjoyable way to spend a leisurely Sunday? 

Are you persuaded by Shawn Micallef's take on brunch as a proxy for class politics? Or are we reading too much into a simple, delicious plate of eggs and hollandaise?

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on reader replies.)

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