In America, the word “brunch” conjures visions of Eggs Benedict and bagels and lox. But, broadly speaking, “brunch” – as a word and a concept — is a literal blend of breakfast and lunch. And around the world, there’s a wide variety of culinary delights that people choose to graze on between late morning and mid-afternoon.
Those global snacks and meals are the subject of a charming photo series called BrunchCity. In it, photographer Andrea G. Portoles and illustrator Bea Crespo reimagine the world’s cities as mini metropolises where midday noshes are part of the architecture.
“We wanted to find a typical plate in each city that was easy to relate to,” Portoles and Crespo write in an email. “For each city, we choose the most representative food or drink,” they add.
Though anyone who is familiar with one of the cities in their images might be able to pick out the landmarks Crespo has recreated in paper, they don’t officially like to give the names away. “We prefer people to discover them by themselves,” they write. “It’s like a game to get people involved.”
We went on a landmark-hunting mission and managed to name a few. On top of mini-Madrid’s churro con chocolate are famous sights like the iconic Tio Pepe neon sign that overlooks Madrid’s central square, Le Puerta Del Sol. Also spotted: the Torres Kio — also known as the Gates of Europe — two dark, leaning office buildings that are the tallest in Madrid.
“BrunchCity is more about the enjoyment and the feeling that a brunch gives us,” Portoles and Crespo say.
In New York City, this feeling might be an intense desire for a restorative snack of french fries after a night of drinking. And the sculptural representation of the Big Apple shows fries rising out of their holder as though they were skyscrapers. Though french fries aren’t a traditional American brunch food, it’s almost impossible to find a popular brunch spot in New York City that doesn’t have them on the menu.
Big Ben, the Millennium Wheel and the tower of London crowd together atop a cupcake meant to represent the British capital. The sweet is a nod to tea-time treats — which in England doesn’t just refer to the hot beverage but tea as a late-afternoon meal in itself.
The Greek yogurt of Athens holds up an illustration of the Acropolis. And over in Morocco, the markets of Marrakech are cooled by an oasis of the country’s famous mint tea. The ruins of the Coliseum slope dangerously on a Rome made from gelato.
As for Dublin, Portoles and Crespo opted for a glass of Guinness as its representative midday food of choice. It’s hard to say whether the beer is a dose of afternoon hair of the dog or the beginning of the night to come. The best thing about brunch is that it can go either way.
Tove Danovich is a writer based in New York City.