I hate thinking about lunch. It is never really a meal. It's a bunch of afterthoughts put together. Here, have some chips. A glass of milk? Soda? Juice? Maybe you should really make something hot...grilled cheese, well, no. Not anymore. I am free of glutenous substances nowadays. Unfortunately, that means no lunch sandwiches anymore. But you know what? Peanut butter tastes great on potatoes chips. Yes, I've resorted to that. But lunch is one of those afterthought meals I remember tossing together in a bag on my way out the door for school - yogurt, a cereal bar, a way-too-high-in-sodium-prepackaged-off-the-shelf-pasta-meals to heat in the microwave at school, or some leftovers from the night before...
When I was teaching, eating out of Tupperware and Rubbermaid or other plastic containers was lunch. Eating fast was a skill set, too, so you could be off and running to whatever else it was you needed to do in your "lunch hour" which was renamed "lunch break" as the hour was cut to 38 minutes. Surely, you don't need to digest or talk to anyone your age.
As a kid in school, we never had a lunchroom - except for one year. Ninth grade was at the Jr. High and we, being from a small town, came to that school for just that year before starting at the high school. The Jr. High was a newer building and had a real CAFETERIA in the basement. Exciting. Hot food at lunch. And then it was over. No cafeteria at the high school. You brought your lunch in a brown bag (no colorful cartoon lunch boxes any more), walked home if you lived close enough, or went to a sandwich shop nearby.
At that time we'd moved in to town so we could go to school more easily. Parents from outlying areas had to drive kids to school, as the buses didn't come out to get us, and only a few kids in high school had a car. All that, to tell you that sometimes I walked home with my friend, and we would make a most delicious sandwich that we'd created: Tuna Salad sandwich with potato chips (in place of lettuce) and raspberry or strawberry jam spread on one of the slices. It sounds a little iffy, but it was heavenly!
There were lots of sandwiches from Grade 1 to 12 (Kindergarten hadn't been invented in our district in Maine). I wonder now if that is how so many people have acquired the gluten problems. Processed cereals for breakfast, crackers for snack, and sandwiches for lunch. That's a lot of wheat. I don't have any idea, but I am pretty sure we've done it to ourselves.
But that's a bit of a digression. Back to lunch. So lots of sandwiches. My dad often made our lunches. We each had a metal lunchbox with a character on it. It was a big deal to pick out the new year's lunch box. I cannot for the life of me remember even one of mine now. I should ask my brother. He remembers everything.
Lunches were always sandwiches. PB&J, PBJ&M (M is for marshmallow fluff), J&M (if we didn't have any PB left), bologna with mustard, bologna and cheese with mustard, sliced hamburger with ketchup, fried slices of Spam, tuna salad, or Sandwich Spread sandwiches were what I remember most. Sandwich Spread we learned years later was really supposed to be like a condiment - like mustard - on your sandwich, not the actual sandwich contents. But to my mom and dad, it said "Sandwich Spread", so it mean you spread it on bread, and it makes a sandwich, and it doesn't cost so much for your 4 kids to eat a lunch. We probably had an apple or other fruit to go with it. And then there was the warm milk. It started out being cold, but by the time it sat outside the classroom door all morning after the milkman delivered it, it was hall temperature. Winters it wasn't too bad. Warm days, I wished I'd had the extra 2 cents for chocolate milk instead of warm plain whole milk (they hadn't invented 2%, and I guess they hadn't heard that you should refrigerate milk).
At the end of the school year, when we cleaned out our desks there were always forgotten lunches squashed in one of the corners of a few desks. Sometimes they were discovered before the end of the school year, because egg salad gets pretty bad in the heat of those late spring classrooms.
Nowadays, being retired and often on my own for lunch, I will either skip it, or again, just throw something together quickly. I don't have to get back to a classroom, but it still doesn't feel like a meal I want to waste much time on.
Most of my life has been spent in schools, so it's probably habit after so many years of school lunches. I think if I want to get healthier, lunches are going have to be relearned. Can an old teacher learn new lunches? I'm going to try. It's time.
Heidi Mordhort at My Juicy Little Universe is challenging people to write poems using the word of the day ending in CH. Today's word is Lunch. Hey, what a coincidence! I just wrote about lunch for my slice!
As the middle link in the meal food chain
How can it really feel
sandwiched between mashed potatoes
and creamy hot oatmeal?
It's often found in a plain zippered box
and sometimes in brown bags.
What once was hot is now quite not,
and what was cold now sags.
Could ever there be a more mundane meal
than lowly pbj?
Yet still we love our midday munch.
Yea! Lunch is on it's way.
©Donna JT Smith, 2015
What did YOU have for lunch today?