Happy Tuesday, dear Bon Appétit adherents!
For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing me as a child, I’ll first mention that I was
precociously decisive in terms of taste an insanely picky kid with no tolerance for anything with a sauce, cooked in a casserole dish, or green. I could survive for months on end on cheese roll ups and Frosted Cheerios. This was not the fault of my dear mother, who did everything she could to prevent my dad’s insufferable eating habits from rubbing off on me, but all my own. Sorry, Mom.
Add in the fact that I spent my entire adolescence running from one activity to the next like that proverbial beheaded chicken, and my high school lunch experience was probably somewhat atypical. Almost every single day, for four straight years, I ate a mini bagel with plain cream cheese, a bag of Bugles chips, and a can of Barq’s Root Beer. These foods could be grabbed quickly by bypassing the “hot lunch” line and going straight to the central vending machine area of my cafeteria, therefore allowing me to use my twenty-minute lunch break as “efficiently” as possible. (And I wondered why I started spontaneously passing out midway through senior year.)
Once again, not my mother’s fault or the fault of my school. I attended a private, religious K-12 school in an affluent part of L.A. (Lower Alabama, that is). The school cafeteria always offered a hot meal, though most kids went for the hamburgers, french fries, and chicken sandwiches that were on offer every day, or brown bagged it. Bags of chips and soda or sports drinks were the usual sides. My brother, for instance, was perfectly happy to eat the Pizza Hut that our school had delivered in bulk every day. Not the healthiest of foods, but at least he was getting in the necessary calories.
Kids don’t really have the choice to be that difficult here in France. Take a look at any restaurant menu, and you’ll notice a distinct lack of a kids’ section. If one does exist, you won’t see grilled cheese or chicken nuggets; you’ll find smaller portions of the kitchen’s regular dishes. People might have a preference for certain types of cheeses or other very specific tastes (i.e. I don’t like mustard), but I have yet to meet someone with the wide-ranging “pickiness” that so many American children have.
Today’s lunch was about as far from my high school experience as possible. I’m proud to have graduated from my mini bagels. From the salad dressing to the (heaven forbid) touching ingredients in the puff pastry and the slimy mushrooms, this meal would have been absolutely off limits not so long ago.
Let me know what your usual school (or work!) lunch is in the comments below, and don’t forget to read the questions that were posed under yesterday’s post!