Sep 27, 2011

cafeteria duty

Tomorrow night I'll be joining my friend Marshall and a few other friends for his biweekly theme potluck.

This week's theme is "school cafeteria food".

I've spent what seems like an inordinate amount of money to make two dishes that I remember from my days at school. Makes me appreciate how cheap school lunches are.

Amazingly at the last meeting, while discussing the theme to come, only two of us remembered that there was always an eerie coincidence: the cafeteria ladies would dish up spinach on the very day that the grass would be mowed.

I just thought this was common did she, but no one else there ever seemed to put two and two together.

This week's been a bitch, so my cooking will be perfunctory at best. I'd thought of actually just bringing those little milk cartons of milk, you know the ones.

That's how tired I've been, but finding them has proven to be even harder than cooking.
Why must everything in life be so difficult. grrr
Maybe I'll just supply hairnets.

Anyway, I suppose my favorite cafeteria food memory is the smell of yeast rolls and red beans and rice wafting over the playground on a chilly Monday.
Back when I was growing up, they actually let the old ladies cook once or twice a week. Now, it's strictly heated up prepackaged food.
Of course, it wasn't always redbeans and chocolate was always the cut grass surprise (spinach).....and let us never forget the mysterious and dreaded grey "shepherd's pie".

I'm pretty sure "shepherd" means "left-over-government-patties-from-the -week-before", right?

Anyway, what's your fondest and worst memory of school cafeteria food?


Anonymous said...

"Maybe I'll just supply hairnets." That may be your funniest line yet.

I have few food memories, rather it was always about the dreaded table selection, even through college.

Brent said...

On snowy days, my brothers and I would play a game we called "cafeteria ladies." We would each take turns with big spoons thumping glop on each other's plates. It was great fun.

normadesmond said...

they made sloppy things that i liked, crap spooned over potatoes or rice.

i detested the carrot/cabbage/raisin slaws. ugh.

Anonymous Jason Fan said...

Pizza Wednesdays was everyone's favorite. The pizza was baked in huge flat pans (like cookie sheets) and cut into rectangles. Tasteless crust, government cheese, and herbs that looked like crumbled-up pot sprinkled on top. But it was pizza!

There was also extremely "loose" hamburger (imagine sloppy Joes without the tomato sauce) in huge steam trays. The caf ladies served it by hand (!). Wearing clear plastic gloves, they'd scoop a handful of loose meat and plop it on a bun.

No salad bars or yogurt or any of that sophisticated shit. And you could only buy ONE cookie per day (yay for nutritional standards), so if you wanted another one, you had to hang around the caf and ask someone to buy it for you (the same way we'd later hang outside liquor stores and ask adults to buy us booze).

MJ said...

We didn't have a cafeteria.

The school was located wayyyy down a long, country road surrounded by farm fields.

You brought your own lunch or you went without.

TB said...

I too remember the homemade yeast rolls; definitely the best thing on the whole menu. The great unknown was the Salisbury Steak. Some kind of ground up meat which I suspected was cat and squirrel.

Sami said...

We had these things called "flying saucers." They were made of bologna topped with instant mashed potatoes and processed cheese. When baked, the bologna would curl up, creating the bowl of the flying saucer. Honestly, I would totally eat one of those at a potluck!!

Miss Janey said...

Miss J thought the school-served pizza wasn't too bad, back in the day.

Who you callin' housewife? said...

I wish my childhood memories were filled with the smell of red beans and rice. I do recall the smell of cooked kale. It was exactly the same odor that wafted from the boy's locker room.

Along with the hairnets, you could also supply some hairy warts.

If you are able to find those little cartons of milk, make sure you also have a supply of the crappy little paper straws.

Diane said...

I just realized I have successfully surpressed all memory of school cafeteria food. Thank you, Jason!

govtdrone said...

Yes! I thought everyone knew the grass = spinach at lunch equation. The one thing I remember is the specific smell of the brown gravy. The cafeteria at work smells like some mornings and I am suddenly back at school.

ricola said...

In Primary school in London we had the best oatmeal. I also remember that sometimes I'd be sent with a slice of cold takeaway pizza for lunch breakfast and the kitchen ladies would take it and heat it up for me.

In North Carolina it was tater tots and fried okra.

In New Mexico it was breakfast burritos and frito pies.

I don't think I ever ate in the cafeteria during high school.

Anonymous said...

"Bi-weekly" potluck?

Oh, the shelves must be cleared of Pepto.

tamayn said...

Conversely for us, it was always pizza Fridays. I remember when the former head cook retired at our school, we were pretty sure that everything would change. They tried to put in other meals, but it just wasn't very popular. There was no better day than when you started Junior High in my district. We could choose to have french fries every day if we wanted. That also probably explains why I was almost 180 when I finished high school. So good.

Jezebella said...

We had post-grass-cutting "spinach" at my junior high out in Metairie, too. Now I'm wondering if the cafeteria ladies weren't just fucking with us.