Thursday, January 8, 2009

No more PB and J!

I bring my lunch to work every single day. Because I'm congenitally unable to cook small meals, my lunches almost always consist of leftovers, which makes me very happy.

Yesterday's LA Times had an article on ways to make a more innovative and exciting packed lunch, which immediately reminded me of one of my all-time favorite books, Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban.

As you will remember, Frances goes through that dreaded I-will-only-eat-one-kind-of-food phase, which in her case is bread and jam. Although not a particularly adventurous eater as a child, I still thought Frances insane to prefer bread and jam to all the luscious foods her family ate. I was most envious of Frances' friend Albert, whose school lunches were a veritable feast.

'What do you have today?' said Frances.
'I have a cream cheese-cucumber-and-tomato sandwich on rye bread,'
said Albert. 'And a pickle to go with it. And a hard-boiled egg and a little
cardboard shaker of salt to go with that. And a thermos bottle of milk. And a
bunch of grapes and a tangerine. And a cup custard and a spoon to eat it

Luckily, Frances does come to her senses:

Albert said, 'What do you have today?'
'Well,' said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and sitting a tiny
vase of violets in the middle of it, 'let me see.' She arranged her lunch on the
'I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup,' she said.
'And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have
aclerery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt
for the celery.
And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries.
And vanilla pudding with chocolat sprinkles and a spoon to eat it
'That's a good lunch,' said Albert.

I got into the spirit as soon as I read that article yesterday. Here is what I packed in my lunchbox yesterday:

An apple. A cup of yogurt. A nifty compartmentalized tupperware containing leftover rice pilaf with leftover cajon black-eyed peas on top, plus leftover seasoned collard greens.

And today's lunch:

An apple. A cup of yogurt. A pita sandwich with hummus, feta cheese, and leftover stir-fried onions, peppers, and "chicken" strips. For dessert, a tiny cup of tapioca pudding.

Not as cool as Frances', I admit - but I do eat my lunch at a sweet little table with two plants and a book (and a fork, knife, and spoon and a little bowl of gourmet salt-and-pepper).


  1. oh dear, my work lunches are so pathetic....cheese sandwitch by a beginner pretty much sumss it up.

    I guess I have never read Bread and Jam for Francis. Those lunchs would have stuck in my brain forever!

  2. Nothing more depressing than a lackluster lunch...!
    I just took a gander at your wonderful blog Charlotte's Library and immediately added it to my blog reader - we SF/Fantasy readers have to stick together.

  3. Francis was one of my favorites. I too wondered how PB and J could be better than all that lovely food.

    Didn't you love her in A bargain for Frances, too? Unforgetable!

  4. I 've been meaning to read Francis. These days I'm trying to get back to basics -Diet for a Small Planet and Laurel's Kitchen. My hubby is a real cowboy -a fiend for Arby's with lots of spicy sauce.

  5. I really identified with Frances, especially since I had a little sister too.
    Genie, your husband probably wouldn't relish a great cookbook called Vegan Lunchbox - but you might!

  6. If you think Frances is funny
    then you will love the stories
    on Craigslist LA
    missed connections.