THE TROUBLE WITH LUNCH

I have always thought that lunch was a thankless meal. It has nothing going for it. Breakfast is “the most important meal of the day,” and dinner comes complete with candlesticks and cloth napkins. But lunch? All that distinguishes it is a brown bag and an apple.

Now that much more energy is being focused on our daily diets, due to the fact that most of us in America are way too fat, lunch has loomed into the spotlight. They are eliminating the evil parts of it, such as cola drinks and potato chips, from school cafeterias. We are told that we need to add more fiber, more vitamins, and more protein to our lunches. But here’s the rub: almost nobody in American wants to think about lunch, much less improve on it.

Breakfast and dinner are most often eaten at home, or at least in the car on the way to someplace important or interesting. We have multiple options, starting with Oatmeal and ending with meat loaf. We scramble eggs and eat them with buttered toast. Baked potatoes and chicken pot pies are great for supper. We all look forward to having that glass of fresh squeezed (from concentrate) orange juice and that pre-dinner glass of wine.

But for lunch? Bleh. We eat our lunches in drab cafeterias, on our unsanitary desks, or in break rooms. At best, some of us can take a quick time out and go for some sort of fast food sandwich or salad. Lunch is banal. We don’t have time to think about it.

I read an article that a food pundit wrote concerning lunch. She enthusiastically recommended things like “wraps,” “fun fruit bundles,” “crisp bread,” and “whole grain cookies.” My question: who is going to bundle up the fruit? How does one do that? And what is so much fun about a small bundle of prunes? And wrapping things? Making a sandwich is high effort, as far as I am concerned. At seven in the morning, it is all I can do to face bologna and mayonnaise. Slapping it between two pieces of bread is almost too much. But wrapping things? That requires buying tortillas, spreading, inserting, and rolling. Things that are rolled up can unroll. This is an awful lot of work. At seven in the morning. And it takes away from the enjoyment of that fresh squeezed (from concentrate) orange juice. I tried “Crisp Bread.” It tastes remarkably like cardboard. And I have no idea how “whole grain” and “cookie” married into something edible.

Lunch also suffers from a caloric problem. We shouldn’t have too much lunch, or we will “ruin our dinners.” Lunch should be something that will tide us over until we can really chow down on the deliciousness that is dinner. Wine has calories, and heaven knows, we must save enough room for a light dessert. So that leaves us with little wiggle room at lunch. This is why they invented “Lean Cuisines,” and other calorie controlled frozen entrees. They fool us on the package: what looks like a wonderful and bounteous portion of turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes is actually a dry arrangement of one little bit of poultry, a few croutons, and a teaspoon of salty sauce. Another option for us at lunch is the “nutritious protein shake,” that tastes like chocolate flavored vitamins.

I do have a solution to this whole problem. Actually, there are two solutions. One is to retire from your job, sleep late, and have breakfast for lunch. Since this is not an option available to everyone, the second solution may be revolutionary. Call your mom. Ask her to come out of retirement and start making you lunches again. She will love it! She’ll feel useful and needed! She will be flattered, and will love bundling fruit and making whole grain cookies!

And if you are my age, I am sorry to hear that your Mom passed away. Start sleeping in.

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