What’s For Lunch?

Fellow blogger spencercourt, who became a real-life friend, followed by becoming a Facebook friend, started something this week.  spencercourt grew up in Manila, and attended a high school called, at that time, the American School.  The name subsequently changed to the International School.  He and fellow schoolmates of different graduating classes have a Facebook group called something like the AS/IS Club, and also have their own website.

By a strange coincidence, I have something similar.  I grew up in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina.  We don’t have a website, but we have two Facebook groups.  One is strictly for my graduating class.  We were the first graduating class from the new high school built in our town, and we feel pretty special because of it.  The other group is called “Remember Waynesville When…”.   People of all age groups post photos of Waynesville then and now, interesting bits of history, memories, etc.

So spencercourt asked an innocent question.  He asked if any of his AS/IS peeps remembered what they ate for lunch in high school, because he couldn’t remember. He could remember eating lunch almost every day at the Army Navy Club, but not what the food was.  He wanted to know what his fellow AS/IS folks remembered.

I suddenly realized that I couldn’t remember what we ate for lunch either, with one exception.  The rolls.  They were a type of yeast roll called a water roll.

So I asked the same innocent question on our “Remember When” group. Who remembers our school lunches, and specifically, who remembers the rolls? OMG, you would have thought I asked everyone to share their ideas on how to achieve world peace. People were coming out of the woodwork. EVERYBODY remembered the rolls.

One of the things I looked forward to were the replies to spencercourt’s question. It seemed to me that school lunches in the Philippines might be pretty exotic. Then it dawned on me that school lunches in the mountains of North Carolina might seem pretty exotic to people from the Philippines.

Many people remembered days when lunch was pinto beans, turnip greens, and cornbread. I remember having corn quite often as a vegetable, probably because corn was grown locally quite a bit. You think of corn as a crop grown in the endless flat fields of Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas, but if planted correctly, it grows just fine in the mountains too, just not as abundantly.

Besides the rolls, many people also remembered the peanut butter cookies. Apparently the government gave our schools free peanut butter and cheese. So we’ve gone on the hunt for the recipes for the rolls and the cookies from former lunchroom ladies.

One member of the “Remember” group is a former local politico (County Commissioner) turned reporter for the hometown newspaper. The discussion has reached the point where her editor said she should write a story about it for the paper.

She wondered how she could possibly do that, since she doesn’t cook. (She stores cups and saucers in her oven.) I told her she doesn’t play an instrument or sing in a bluegrass band either, but she regularly reports on that anyway. No difference.

Plus, I said she should treat it as history, not as a cooking article. School lunches have changed dramatically over the years since we got “homemade” rolls and peanut butter cookies for lunch in the school cafeteria.

Like I said, spencercourt started something.

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14 responses to “What’s For Lunch?

  1. Interesting subject material. I can remember a lot of what I ate but I particularly remember the yeast rolls. I had begun a campaign in Jr High School with the cafeteria ladies by approaching them after I skipped lunch period to run (for track) and buttering them up for a few rolls. I got to be pretty good at it and in HS perfected it to a science. So I always had extra rolls.

    But what I mostly remember about HS Lunch was Susan Weber. She was a Junior Cheerleader when I was a Sophomore. I had an unfulfilled and unsustainable (or so I imagined, it never got further than that) crush on her. She was so gorgeous I almost trembled in her presence. Well one day I brought my full tray to the table directly in front of her… with an unobstructed view. As I sat it on the table, distracted as I was, I spilled the entire tray down the front of my pants. As my eyes met hers and her unrestrained laughter began to bubble up around the lunch room I turned what must have been a deep scarlet and let out a string of every profane word I could muster which was quite a bit. At which she laughed harder and I beat a hasty retreat. Don;t think I went back to the lunch room for a month.

    Obviously I haven’t gotten past it yet:)

  2. Oh……..it was spaghetti.

  3. Interesting that you never know how a FB post may explode into dozens of comments.

    And as you note, “exotic” is relative. Pinto beans and turnip greens? Never heard of them until I came to the US. Now mongo (mung) beans are a different story! 😉

    Those must have been some rolls…

    And great story PT!

  4. That is a great story from pt! It reminds me, with the benefit of hindsight, how high school was. We were so focused on being cool, and being like everyone else, and being perfect. Spilling spaghetti on your pants in front of a cheerleader would practically be grounds for suicidal thoughts.
    I remember once when I was in the 11th grade, we had these twins in the class, the Osborne brothers. Once I was late for English class and they had attached a condom to the outer door handle. I didn’t even know what it was. But when I walked into the room, the entire class erupted in laughter. I didn’t even know why, but once some kind soul told me, I was mortified beyond belief.
    Somehow I never perfected the art of getting extra rolls, but there was a lot of horse trading at the tables. “I’ll give you my peanut butter cookie if I can have your roll”. I’m delighted to learn those rolls were not just unique to North Carolina!
    sc, I figured the pinto beans, turnip greens, and cornbread meal would make the point! To this day, I’m stunned by the idea of eating rice for breakfast 🙂 I’m pretty sure I never ate rice in any form until I was an adult. We ate potatoes. Makes sense…lots of Scots and Irish people in the mountains.
    When my friend the reporter publishes her article, I’ll post it. She’s a really good writer.

  5. Rice was served in the school cafeterias but never at home. Mama thought it looked like worms …

  6. White rice still makes me think of maggots. I like yellow rice and curried rice, because they’re yellow. Nature does not make yellow maggots.

  7. I learned to eat the rice at school with sugar. These days we serve it as a base for pot pies or savory gravy. It has no visual connotations for me. Brown rice is also yummy and wild rice, while not really rice, adds a delightful flavor to some dishes.

  8. Rice with gravy is the preferred starch in this family\Jeff

  9. Now that Fakesister mentions it, I do recall eating rice with butter and sugar, which basically turned it into rice pudding without the eggs. I am never eating maggots swimming in gravy.
    Generally I don’t think of myself as a picky eater, but I’m learning I’m wrong about myself. I’ll eat many things that others consider exotic, but there are many common things I find distasteful (e.g., rice and gravy).

  10. Never met a rice I didn’t like:)

  11. Well Fakesister, since you ate rice with sugar then you would probably like a dessert rice cake called “suman.” A gelatinous sweet sticky rice log, usually wrapped in banana leaf. You can probably find a photo of it by a Google image search.

  12. According to wikipedia it’s made with coconut milk. I’m probably not eating that. Unlike Fakename, I know I’m a picky eater! And coconut anything is not on my menu, with the occasional exception of coconut shrimp and coconut-pecan frosting.

  13. Our small Iowa high school served some of the best biscuits I can remember. Sometimes they came with turkey or chicken gravy flooding them. We had turkey or chicken pizza made from left overs, loose meat sandwiches.jello salad, and lettuce salad were frequent. We also had fruit.

    In college, I held jello salad to the light and selected what had finger prints instead of palm prints. We ate well for a couple of weeks after lightning killed a herd of cattle which the food company bought and served to us.

    My Air Force diet was fairly good because as Medics our hospital had a dietician. Meat balls and spagetti served in a field kitchen ranked with high school biscuits as some of the best food of my life.

  14. That’s the thing about food, James, isn’t it? We associate it with memories as much as we associate memories with photographs, maybe even more. I can remember the first time I ever ate some foods, for example, escargot. I had it for the first time at a little restaurant in Montreal, and just thinking about it makes me remember the whole trip.

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