What perverse culinary twist has turned lunchtime at work into the spurned lover of our daily meals? Keep her (or him) firmly under wraps, consume preferably under the pretence of doing something else and whatever you do, don’t acknowledge them for shame of being found out.
Eating al desko, crumbing and greasing the keyboard while literally ruminating over emails is, I concur, the act of human beings who have socially regressed. I’m not suggesting we whip out the tablecloth and the silver service (one can but fantasise) but neither am I willing to endure the plastic scream of pre-prepped sandwiches being released from their festering triangular lair (anyone who has undergone cancer treatment will know that doctors recommend avoiding ready-made sandwiches as well as water in plastic bottles).
There are two reasons for this: one – they are over-priced convenience foods that have about as much nutritional worth as a KFC bucket left to rot in the environs of Fukushima and two – how hard is it to make some extra dinner and chuck that into a plastic container for the following day’s lunch?
On this basis, I have recently given my husband’s packed lunch a bit of a makeover and, subsequently, my own. Gone are the towering stacks of bread slabs filled with cheese and chutney. Instead, an investment into a decent lunchbox (slim enough to fit inside his briefcase, cutlery included and a little tub to store dressings, nuts, hummous etc) has introduced the likes of leftover stir-fry with roasted sesame seeds, cold lamb with mint sauce, lasagne with lettuce, pasta with blue cheese and a little pot of roast walnuts and whatever else happens not to be eaten the previous night.
Granted, it doesn’t always work and I’ll have to whip something up as I’m eating breakfast – pasta boiled with peas and broccoli, couscous with hummous (the easiest of all packed lunches) or salad with grated cheese and boiled egg. My morning museli becomes a little frantic and sometimes I burn things while making tea and cleaning my teeth, but on the whole, a little forethought (preferably the night before) has made a big difference to lunchtime and his mid-afternoon carb-crashes are less and less frequent.
What’s next? A thermos, a picnic basket and some Prosecco. And a recent purchase of baking beans and a tart tin means watching this space for configurations of quiche and pie (a bag of spinach, 250g marscapone, a couple of eggs and some grated Parmesan or blue cheese later and it’s in the oven. Go for ready-made pastry if time is short, otherwise knead up a double batch and freeze).
Let’s learn to give lunch some lovin’ again. The Italians give it two hours’ worth of lovin’ and the French add an obligatory glass of wine (even in the canteen) – how civilised is that? Move away from the keyboard …
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