Thursday, August 18, 2011

Longing for lunch

My husband once gave me a classic construction worker's lunch box for my birthday, the big rugged kind with a domed lid for a Thermos.

That's not the kind of lunch box I see construction workers toting around these days, however.  The workers arriving at the construction site I jog by every morning at 6:30 am are carrying enormous round coolers, in which my entire family's lunches would fit.

What could be in these intriguingly large lunch pails?  Maybe it's that I'm hungry - or more likely I'm just bored - but I find myself pondering the hypothetical lunches contained in those pails for the duration of my run.

Thick slabs of turkey on rye bread with generous lashings of mustard.
Soy-sauced garlicky soba noodles, studded with marinated tofu, green onions, and red peppers.
Spicy shredded pork, ready to wrap up in home-made flour tortillas, still warm from the skillet.
Noodle soup, thick squares of cornbread, cold pizza, chicken drumsticks, baguette hunks and cheese
Snickerdoodle cookies, a slice of chocolate cake, a tub of butterscotch pudding

In other words, dream lunches - lunches inspired by those that Frances and her friend Albert bring to school in Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. 
 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 doily.
'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 celery, 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 chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with.'
'That's a good lunch,' said Albert.
It's likely that the real contents of those lunch pails don't come come close to what I'm imagining.  Do the construction workers bring red-and-white checked cloth napkins to tie under their chins?  Are there little tubs of organic sea salt?  Probably not.

But isn't it fun to imagine it?!


  1. I needn't imagine what my characters eat. I love to write about food in my stories. I find that kids really enjoy that aspect of my stories, especially since all kids eat and all kids have favorite foods. Potato Soup is the main theme in Magician of Oz. The Reuben Samich is the theme in Shadow Demon of Oz and Blackberry Cobbler completes Family of Oz. By the time you've read all three of my books from the Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy, you've had soup, samich and dessert!

  2. Contents of those lunch coolers? Six packs of some beverage? Bud Light maybe?

  3. Frances' lunch does sounds absolutely delicious.
    I seem to remember there was a wonderful blog that featured a children's book, and an accompanying recipe each week... but now I can't find it!

  4. Beer?? So cynical (tsk).
    Frances' vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles just kills me, and the cardboard shaker of salt, too (much better than a paper packet).
    I just ate a delish BLT at my desk at work - the B was faux, of course - with a tomato from my garden that was so sweet, I thought I had sprinkled sugar on it instead of salt. Yum! No little vase of flowers, though...