Thursday, February 6, 2014

School Lunch, Homemade Variety

I can't speak for everyone of course, but I always wanted school lunch to be predictable with no bad surprises, such as mysterious ingredients or dark bread.  Once you sat down at the lunch table and pulled out your lunch, there was no escape from having to eat it.  Nuns patrolled the cafeteria and were able to spot a non-eater from fifty yards.  You were completely at your Mom's mercy as far as finding something you liked or could at least get to go down your throat in your bag.
At the top on the left hand page is the King of Sandwiches in my book:  tunafish made with hard-boiled eggs and a small, inoffensive amount of  (basically offensive to me) mayonnaise on white bread. Tuna was the star every single Friday, meatless day.  We all adored tuna sandwiches as well as the fact that they came on Friday, that magical end of the week day.   I would have loved it if the crusts were cut off, but with four lunches to make every day, my Mom refused to take that extra step.  There also seemed to be some healthy reason that we were supposed to eat the crust.  I never did understand it, but I thought there were special vitamins that were only in the crust.  I didn't mind the three lighter-colored strips of crust along the sides and bottom of the bread, but the smooth dark-brown curving top crust was terrible and bitter-tasting I thought.

At the bottom left is a bread ball, a satisfying thing to make with pieces of bread.  If you rolled the bread and mushed it up with your fingers it soon turned into a clay and could be used to make small objects,  including the communion host on the right.  The flat wafer made of flattened clay-bread could be used for playing mass at recess or after school.  Bread had a tendency to pick up finger smudges, hence the grayish color of these two objects.

On the right hand page is a properly cut sandwich, little triangles, NOT rectangles.

My Mom had a system of making the same three or four sandwiches and rotating them through the week.  On Monday she frequently made Underwood deviled ham.  This pinkish paste must have been fallout from The War because it came from a can and there was no clue to what it actually was, other than the word ham in the label.  It was slightly grainy and bland, nothing to get excited about, but nothing to worry about either.  The bottom left sandwich is cheese and jelly, one of my favorites.  The cheese was Kraft American, cut from a bright yellow brick, and the jelly was guava-- pale apricot-colored and slightly peachy tasting.  The jelly would sit squashed between the bread slices on top of the cheese.

The other good sandwich was braunschweiger, another mysterious substance, vaguely meaty, but more like peppery paste.  I loved it but I could not imagine what it actually was.  It came in a white plastic tube with a little metal clamp at one end.  I enjoyed holding the unopened tube because it felt like a dense balloon.  You opened it by sawing off the crimped end with a serrated knife, and then as you sliced you peeled the plastic wrapping back over the fat sausage-like object inside.

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