I have difficulty writing events in my past. Not because of any trauma; it’s just that I am so concerned about the here-and-now that I just don’t think about the past that often. Sometimes I must force myself to go back in time so the richness of my past experiences are not lost to me.
Here is one exercise that, in part, takes me back a few decades in my memory. The questions come from Lunch Box Spy, an exercise from the vaults of the Soul Food Cafe.
What can you tell me about the lunches you eat? My lunches are usually easily and cheaply made from whatever seems appealing to me at 7 a.m. in the morning (leftover from my weekend cooking). Unfortunately, it is not always appealing five hours later.
What do you remember about your school lunches? I remember that they were always comprised of a sandwich, usually made on that white squishy bread in the balloon bag (you know which I mean), a bag of potato chips, and cookies. If my mom knew then what we all know now about this type of food, she would be mortified with what she was feeding us.
Were there any family jokes about what you liked to eat? I was chided for liking canned “‘sketti”. This was what I usually had for Saturday’s at-home lunch. I know, I know: bad, bad, bad. But even to this day, if it weren’t for the fact that this food product is so high in sodium and refined carbs, I would still eat it. Comfort food to the max.
Who made your lunch? My mom.
Were you ever able to buy a lunch? I suppose if I insisted, but our cafeteria was usually filled with kids with whom I did not wish to associate (thugs, jocks, and cheerleaders). I felt safer bringing my lunch and eating anywhere but there.
What did they stock in the school canteen? I’m not sure but I heard it was vile.
Did you ever slip across the street with your mates to the fish and chip shop? No “fish and chip shops” around the ‘hood. It was more likely Carl’s, McDonalds, or Tito’s Tacos.
Did any one in your class have a better lunch than you? What did they have? Were you ever able to swap with them? I can’t remember what they had but I do know that we did not swap.
Where did you eat your lunch? Who ate their lunch with you? Did you eat alone? I usually ate on the school’s front lawn,under a big stone pine in front of the theatre building. My regular companions were the other geeky kids or the super-smart kids when they were not busy at student government or their service club meetings. Eating under the pine tree kept us geekies from being picked on by the homies since they were usually busy wrecking havoc in the cafeteria.
What do you have for lunch now? Today I have brown rice and carnitas for lunch.
Do you still own a lunchbox? No, I have an insulated lunch bag and I pack my food in plastic containers.
Do you make your lunch or buy it? I usually try to make and pack a lunch since my work cafeteria is too expensive. I will occassionally treat myself to a purchased lunch — especially if the grill special happens to be Loco Moco.
Do you eat the same thing every day? During a given week, yes. I cook on Sundays and eat what I made every day. Then it is something new the following week.
What is the worst lunch you have ever eaten? I can’t remember. I am grateful for whatever there is.
What is your favourite place to buy lunch? Tito’s Tacos if I happen to be off work and in the neighborhood.
Personal analysis: This was initially quite difficult but the memories of school lunches and the classmates with whom I shared lunch came flooding back. A worthwhile exercise.
About the image: I found this image on the internet and immediately recognized it as one I had at one time. I don’t remember actually selecting something so hideously “not me.”