Monday, 15 February 2010

An early lull

Today should have marked the triumphant start of Lunch club 2010. Instead, a combination of holidays and people having already given up because they are leaving in two weeks meant that no food was served today, nor will it be until Thursday.

But we will not dwell on the negatives; nor will we dwell on wondering why some people signed up for Lunch Club if they were just going to lame out.

Instead, let us think of the positives of lunch today - a reheat job but one of those occasions where reheating was just what the dish needed. Twas a combination of fried chicken, fried cooking apples and mash potatoes, parts of a Chicken and Apple with Cider and Cream dish I made at the weekend (or rather, we made, for my husband made it with me). The cider and cream sauce was uninspiring but the chicken and apples, splashed with tabasco, were a satisfying way to start the week. And most importantly they drew comments from my desk colleague, so gave a chance for food chats.

And last week, I was mostly enjoying Nigel Slater's Leek, Appple & LEmon soup from last month's OFM. Tis a sweet/sour broth, silky with leeks and served over toasted bread drizzled with olive oil. The bread soaks up the lemony broth and becomes a soft stodgy mess of yum.

We await with excitement whether team lame can live up to this kind of satisfying, diverting, discussion-making lunch....

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Launching Lunches

Breakfast, they say, is the most important meal of the day. I'm not so sure. I love breakfast of course, just as I love dinner and snacks and any opportunity to eat through the day. But on weekdays as I struggle through the daily grind, lunch has a special place in my heart.

Lunch shines as a beacon of comfort and control in the middle of work days which can range from tedious to tear inducingly stressful and back again in the course of a few hours. I realise that makes me sound like I have a borderline eating disorder, but to unpack it...A good lunch is comfort because it provides something to look forward to; something to discuss and possibly gloat over with colleagues; something to remember with fondness as you work your way towards the afternoon snack. Lunch is control because I bring in or make my own lunch, and it serves as a reminder that I can manage something right even if I'm not making any progress with my work today.

Granted I wish I could make more of my office lunches (a significant factor in my choice of career was those fabled long liquid lunches us 4th estaters are supposed to enjoy). I'm sad to say I spend most of my lunchhour hunched over the desk in my windowless office, splashing soup and spilling crumbs on my germ-laden keyboard. I also admit that on busy days I can get to mid afternoon and suddenly realise that the reason I feel so rubbish is that I've not eaten properly and have subsisted on chocolate, teas, fruit (on a good week) or (more likely) any other random bits of snack I can lay claim to in the office fridge/kitchen area.

I do not have the same type of lunch obsession of my colleagues who leave every day at 12.30 on the dot and who would no more forget to leave than they would forget to log onto BBC sports as soon as they return from the supermarket and get stuck into their chosen meal for the day. Nor do I (often) join the 'what to eat for lunch today' debates because I am the sort of controlling person who not only brings in their own lunch but plans all her options for the week ahead on Sunday because she likes to know what's happening well in advance. Nor am I often feeling flush (time or money) enough to join outings to restaurants or pubs in the area. That's not to say I don't enjoy a lunch out, and would eat out more often if I could, but it is something about bringing in my own lunch each day that makes my lunch obsession my own.

As well as a love of planning and control, this own-lunch obsession partly stems from a dislike of pre-packed sandwiches and ready meals which means bringing in my own is the only way to ensure I'll have a good lunch. And a bad lunch as anyone knows can ruin a whole day, leaving you angry at a wasted opportunity and possibly hungry too which is even worse.

So that is my take on lunch and as I have alluded, others in my office also share a lunch/food obsession as well as my love of cooking. We are also lucky to be a fairly young and small team who get on well and like nothing better than some slightly pointless organised fun/socialising/competition.

So the Lunch Club was born. The basic concept is a group of people club together and each week one of them cooks a lunch for the others. I emailed this concept round the office and two days of group email/collective fannying about ensued. We ended up with the following arrangement. Six of us have formed the Club, split into three teams of two (pairs, I suppose, but then we couldn't give ourselves team names). Each week for three weeks (starting not tomorrow but the following Monday), one team will bring in lunch for the others . We will rate them out of 10, and in the end the winners get an as yet unspecified prize.

Already we have begun to dream of future Lunch Club competitions and events. Potluck picnics, international lunch days...the possibilities to distract ourselves and create a bit of pointless fun in the middle of the day are endless. And I hope to chronicle them all here.