I’m currently on sabbatical in Ohio for a little while. I believe this is necessary if I’m really going to get to the heart of why New York City and the Midwest are diametrically opposed. After all, since this blog’s primary function is to isolate, analyze and discuss the dichotomy between Midwest and Manhattan, I can’t aptly do this without spending some quality time in each place.
Since returning, I’ve noticed a plethora of small, but telling instances that epitomized the way Midwest living differs from city living. These things seem trivial and somewhat obtuse, but are vitally important nonetheless.
In no order of importance, I give you the first of many vital difference :
Difference #1: Brunch.
Midwestern brunch is not quite the institution that New York brunch is. This morning I went out with my BFF Julianna to a local eatery called Honey in Northside. Northside is a Cincinnati suburb that strikes me as a diluted version of area around the Morgan Ave. stop on the Brooklyn L line. Hipsters abound here just the same as there, but with less purpose I would argue.
One would think that brunch –the delicate marriage of a hearty breakfast commingling with a lite lunch– is a universal concept that cannot be interpreted widely. However, if the tenets of a good brunch are neglected because of ignorance (or stringent liquor laws), brunch suffers immeasurably. Today, my huevos rancheros were delicious and my mimosa was palatable. However, instead of my mimosa being included with the price of my meal, it was a separate charge $8.
That’s correct: eight ounces of tepid champagne diluted with orange juice for the bargain bin price of $8.
If I were at, say, Elote or Wombat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this would have been included in the price of my meal. But no. I got to spend nearly the price I paid for my entire breakfast for one haphazard beverage, a drink I couldn’t garner a buzz from unless I weighed 48 pounds.
The real tragedy about all of this is that I WANTED a Bloody Mary, but I couldn’t have one because I arrived before 1:00 pm, the legal starting time for serving liquor on Sunday in Ohio. This is one of those midwestisms that was legislated long ago that I will never fully understand. According to Ohio logic, one drink before 1:00pm on a Sunday belies a very intense and pernicious craving for alcohol and probably makes Jesus cry in one way or another.
Essentially in the Midwest, a drink at brunch may brand you with a scarlet “A” for alcoholism.
For Midwestern tourists in New York (here’s looking at you, Mommy), a drink at brunch is exotic, but I won’t tell my friends back home for fear of being branded as a lush.
For a New Yorker, a drink at brunch is as natural as low-flying planes on the horizon.
Having spent the last year in a land that neither demonizes nor encourages a time frame for alcohol, I appreciate the option to have that dubious Bloody Mary at brunch if I so choose. Sometimes I partake. Sometimes, I get coffee. But I’m happy that the decision is never one that’s made for me, as it was this afternoon.
That’s what New York represents to me in a variety of subtle ways: the quintessential mecca of personal choice.
Here’s are some testimonials from those in the know:
Brunch = ultimate hangover cure. Where would we be without it? No matter what monstrosity I’m craving –eggs, burrito, Bloody Mary, mimosa, pancakes, COFFEE– it’s all there within five minutes walking distance of my house and I don’t have to feel guilty about having a drink at lunch. Perfecto. (Why isnt Cincy like this?!)
I’ve been saying for YEARS that if i fail in New York, I’m going to open a proper brunch place in Cincy. Think of how well you could do with a place serving Bloody Marys, mimosas, and breakfast food on ludlow. Yup.
~Erin Lindsey, Graphic Designer and occasional New Yorker
New York understands what a hangover actually is, because half the population mills about on the weekend with one. The best cure is of course is too much breakfast food and another drink. There isn’t enough European infusion in a place like Cincinnati for this concept to be properly understood!
~Drew Christien, Williamsburger and brunch enthusiast
Better wise up, Midwest. New York might be the king of brunch.