A Little Raskin: Brunch, the Gayest Meal

Finally, Pride gets a culinary identity.

For almost every holiday that's secured a spot on the nation's collective celebratory calendar, there's a food to match. Valentine's Day calls for chocolate, the Fourth of July demands a grill. Food's so critical to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas that grocers build their profit plans around them.

Yet as the bungling cafeteria managers who've served chicken and waffles to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day have discovered, it's difficult to assign a food to a historically oppressed group without stumbling into dangerous stereotypes. And thus far, Gay Pride Week doesn't have a signature food. "The first thing I thought of was rainbow fruit salad," laughs Ricky Flickenger, a private chef who's donating 10 percent of his June 1–23 profits to PrideFeast, an annual event benefiting health and wellness nonprofits active in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

Flickenger believes the quintessential pride food is brunch, whether or not rainbow fruit salad is on the buffet. "Brunch is about feeling free and celebrating," Flickenger says. "It's a sense of celebrating community. There's conversation, and cocktails are involved. That's what I love about brunch."

Brunch used to be the province of the well-to-do who could afford to stay out late on Saturday nights and didn't bother with church on Sunday mornings, says Flickenger. Early-20th-century brunchers invested their highfalutin' meals with a fussiness that would seem foreign to contemporary brunch-goers: In the 1940s, a New York City hotel served chicken-liver omelets in Madeira sauce. "Brunch used to be an aristocratic meal, but it has been transformed," Flickenger says.

Much of brunch's history is hazy, since few of the restaurants and hotels which picked up the brunch practice in the 1930s or the decades thereafter, when the meal's reputation as a Mother's Day tradition was cemented, recorded the contents of their buffets.

"We have seen folks consume everything from made-to-order overstuffed omelets with breakfast meat, fried potatoes, and piping-hot biscuits to Spartan artisan breads, fresh fruit, and gourmet yogurt," food historian Lynne Olver reports on The Food Timeline website. "Brunch is about family and friends, choice and leisure."

Flickenger, who always enjoys a pre-parade brunch with friends, has created a special Pride Brunch menu for Seattle Weekly readers. The recipes for his scones, quiche, and zabaglione are posted at bbrunch.com/pridemenu.html. The page includes a link to PrideFeast beneficiary Gay City, allowing cooks who use Flickenger's recipes to make a donation to the organization. Eaters not fond of cooking can contribute to PrideFeast by dining out on June 23, when Julia's, Tidbit, the Capitol Hill location of Via Tribunali, Barrio, and The Tin Table will donate a portion of their evening's profits to the cause.

Flickenger hopes participants in PrideFeast's "Dine Out for Health" event will also find their way to a brunch before the 37th annual Pride Parade down Fourth Avenue on Sunday, June 26.

"To equate brunch with the holiday, that's wonderful," he says.

hraskin@seattleweekly.com

 
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