Liam – May 13, 2019
If my mother had her druthers, we’d have lunch together every day. Maybe it’s my charming company she so enjoys. Maybe it’s that she’s among the 33 percent of moms with adult kids who would like those kids to call them every day, according to a 2016 CBS News poll. Maybe Mom just likes the idea of taking time out of her busy day to have a little conversation over a yummy meal.
That’s what makes Mother’s Day such a great holiday for my Mor: it’s guaranteed uninterrupted face time with her yndling (favorite) son. My mother is not alone in enjoying a nice springtime Sunday brunch with her kids, of course. Whether it’s at a downtown hotspot, at her place so she can relive the joys of taking care of her offspring, or part of a larger community gathering like the recent Mother’s Day brunch at The Danish Home, a mother’s time with her kids is time well spent. And celebrating the influential ladies in our lives is a must.
When it comes to influential ladies, The Danish Home has plenty. I’m talking about The Danish Home’s 12 founders as well as the 200-plus women who make up the Women’s Auxiliary of The Danish Home. Their luncheons, monthly birthday parties and weekly coffee hours help keep The Danish Home and its community thriving. And their next big event, the Smørrebrød Benefit Luncheon, is this Saturday, May 18, at The Danish Home. It’s important to note that this is not a luncheon exclusively for ladies who lunch. Husbands, friends and family are all welcome and encouraged to attend. It is sure to be a wonderful afternoon with some fantastic food from The Danish Home’s Chef Roger Sukhu and his team.
The culinary highlight of this weekend’s benefit luncheon, the smørrebrød, is one of Denmark’s most beloved and tasty creations and Chef Roger’s specialty. If you’re not familiar with these open-faced sandwiches, think of them like a Scandinavian chef’s salad. There are many ways to go about constructing a smørrebrød but they all begin with a thin slice of bread, which is then topped with meats or fish, cheese or spreads, and fresh veggies and garnishes. Chef Roger is planning on preparing Saturday’s sandwiches on The Danish Home’s special pumpernickel bread. A smørrebrød is, in a way, the perfect food for a spring luncheon because it is both light and hearty at the same time, with fresh flavor that blooms in every bite.
But let’s go back to a phrase I mentioned a little earlier: “Ladies who lunch.” It’s one that carries a negative connotation. And since we’re talking about a luncheon organized by over 200 women, I feel I need to clarify a few things.
The common perception of ladies who lunch is those upper-class women without day jobs and the free time to dine and sip cocktails at the city’s most exclusive bistros where the gossip is gobbled up with sterling silver-forked tongues. Think the gal pals from Sex and the City at their absolute worst. Well, really, just Charlotte with a mean streak.
I tried to find evidence of Danish ladies who lunch but it appears to be strictly an American custom. That didn’t surprise me much.
The phrase and trend became popular in the 1970s. Almost immediately, the term and its presumption was poo-pooed by the lunching ladies as a kind of epithet. Can you blame them? No one wants to be called out for living too relaxed and privileged a life. It’s ever so boorish. That didn’t stop playwright Steven Sondheim from skewering these ladies in his 1970 musical Company. In the song “Ladies Who Lunch,” beloved Broadway star Elaine Stritch sings:
“Here’s to the ladies who lunch
Lounging in their caftans
And planning a brunch
On their own behalf.
Off to the gym,
Then to a fitting,
Claiming they’re fat.
And looking grim,
‘Cause they’ve been sitting
Choosing a hat.
Does anyone still wear a hat?
I’ll drink to that.”
Writer Bob Colacello captures the “Ladies Who Lunch” moment at its hoity-toity peak in a Vanity Fair story from 2012.
There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with going to lunch or shopping for hats during the workweek instead of slaving away at a job. Sometimes, what I wouldn’t give to be a lady who lunches. Like most things in life, it’s all about the attitude, or holdning, in which you do things.
The Women’s Auxiliary are not the women Mr. Sondheim and Ms. Stritch lampoon. For one thing, the Smørrebrød Benefit Luncheon is happening over the weekend, and for another, the benefit is not at all focused on any of its planners but entirely on The Danish Home, its residents and their families. And, as far as I know, it has nothing to do with hats.