Saturday, May 29, 2010

lunch bag

When I was in high school, my friends and I didn't spend much time together in class. It was a big school, and we all had different interests and academic tracks. A couple of us walked to school together,and some of us were in the school play together, but mostly, our time together happened at lunch. In the sunny months, we would meet at a designated spot on the lawn out front of the school. In cooler, wetter weather, we'd meet on the stairs out back of the school. It wasn't the smoke pit, nor was it where the cool kids congregated. It was pretty much near the math classrooms, so I guess it was probably the geek pit. It was a good place to sit and talk, with few interruptions by teachers or even other students. We were pretty tight at lunch time, catching up on each others' experiences and sharing gossip. Oh yeah, we also shared lunch.

My friend Vic is Italian. Her mom packed Italian lunches: deli meat sandwiches on lovely fresh buns, almost always a juicy pear, and either S-cookies or choke cake for dessert. We loved the S-cookies. These were store-bought confections of white flour and sugar and lots of egg, I'm pretty sure. They tasted a bit like vanilla and anise, but not too much. We would kill for S-cookies. Choke cake, on the other hand, could kill you. It was some kind of white cake without frosting, that was so dry, if you had even one bite, you would choke. This was before the time of water bottles and juice boxes. At school we could buy a small carton of homo milk at the cafeteria, or drink from the water fountain. Both the cafeteria and the water fountain were too far away to help with choke cake. I don't know what Vic's mom put in it. I don't have the recipe and I don't want it.

Sometimes the girls brought money for the cafeteria, where you could get hamburgers flat enough to use as book marks, and suspicious bran muffins. We sometimes took a marker into the cafeteria line, and marked a couple of the paper plates that held the bran muffins. We'd follow a "marked muffin" to find out how many days it stood on the counter before it disappeared. Although I really like bran muffins, I didn't ever buy the suspicious cafeteria bran muffins. By grade 11, all I ever bought from the cafeteria was coffee. I was already pulling study all-nighters by that time, and I discovered that coffee helped a lot. When we didn't bring lunch, and we didn't go to the cafeteria, we'd walk over to Kensington Plaza and get something at Safeway. My favourite was a big bag of grapes. I'd share them with my friends. We could eat a couple of pounds of grapes over the course of one lunch hour. Grapes don't make you choke, but they frequently gave me the hiccups, which made me not-the-teacher's-favourit
e in my after lunch class.

At university, I subsisted mainly on salad kaisers from the pub. They were big, fresh kaiser buns stuffed with veggies and cheese. I think one salad kaiser cost about $3, and it kept me happy until supper time. By that time I was carrying a water bottle. I was a weirdo for doing this because water bottles had not caught on yet. I was thirsty a lot, because I taught fitness at 7:30am on campus, then came to class. I had to bring a coffee in to my first class every morning, though, or I would doze off from waking up so early to come up the hill to teach. The falling asleep in the front row of the lecture theatre made me not-the-prof's-favourite-student, so the coffee was a big help. After fitness, then coffee, I was re-hydrating all day.

These days I pack myself a lunch to take to work. There's a staff room at my office, with a microwave and toaster over. I like to use the microwave, because the toaster oven frequently smokes a bit, and we live in constant fear of setting off the smoke alarms and having to evacuate the whole rec centre until the firefighters give us the all clear to go back inside. A warm, cripsy re-heated slice of pizza is just not worth it. I like packing my lunch because it's cheaper and generally healthier than buying lunch. Also, I can eat it during my coffee break, and use my lunch hour for exercise. I like to use leftovers because they are easy, and usually provide a complete meal. I always bring snacks as well as lunch. I still get up very early in the morning, and often eat breakfast before 6, so I need something to eat before lunch time. Fruits, veggies or yogurt tide me over just fine.

The lunch pictured here is pretty typical. It's actually the makings for a warm wrap sandwich. In the box, there are greens and onions, plus a whole wheat tortilla. The two little containers hold a beef-rice mixture (left over from stuffed zucchinis the day before) and feta and greek olive slices. At lunch time, I heated the meat/rice up in the micro, then put it into the tortilla along with the feta, olives and salad. It was delicious, and it did not set off the smoke alarm, which is good, because I did not want to share my delicious wrap with the firefighters.

When I pack my lunch, I remember to use a freezer pack to keep perishable foods safe to eat. We have a fridge at work, but I'm not always good at remembering to put my food into the fridge. Most days, I have a quick, healthy lunch. It almost never makes me choke. Sometimes though, I miss the good old days, the geek pit, and those yummy S-cookies.

question: what do you like to eat for lunch?

mompoet - the best lunches are smoke-free and choke free

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