Better Bento


Public schools have come a long way as far as the school’s hot lunch. In my day, we had “jail food.” Yellow fish sticks with equally yellow tater-tors or a concoction that was supposed to be a Sloppy Joe but resembled garbage. They charged a buck seventy-five during my Junior High years, so I opted for a pack of stale chocolate chip cookies they sold at the “snack bar” for seventy-five cents and drank the water from the water fountain, which strangely smelled – and tasted – like the school’s room-temperature container of milk.


My boys hardly complain about the cafeteria food. Well, Zuki doesn’t anyway. Then again, the boy feasts on his snots and his stinky thumb. Still, he surprised me when he confessed that he actually asks for the atrocity the cafeteria calls a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


It’s gross. Seriously. You’d think a PB&J sandwich would be a standard that even cafeteria line cooks wouldn’t fuck up. But they do – it’s so disgusting, it would make a vegetarian order a hot dog. And the other day, I actually had to eat that crap.


I chaperoned a class field trip to the New York Botanical Gardens the other day. At lunch, Zuki’s “partner” managed to talk Zuki into giving up half of the ham and cheese sandwich I packed for his lunch.


“Oh, Zuki’s Mom,” the partner said, “this is the BEST ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had in my LIFE.”


I figured he was brown-nosing for more but seeing that both boys devoured the sandwich, I, like an idiot – or in other words, a typical food-pushing-mother – offered the boys the ham and cheese sandwich I packed for myself…leaving me with nothing.


Zuki’s partner offered me his school packed PB&J sandwich and not wanting to be rude, plus being starving, I accepted. I took a bite out of that thing and confirmed that yes, sometimes things taste as shitty as they look.


Honestly, the parents who allow their kids to have the school packed lunch for field trips obviously never had to eat it. If they knew, they’d cry tears of regret and beg forgiveness for that act of cruelty. I mean, we’re not perfect, I get it. But you don’t have to be a Susie-homemaker to slap together something – even a mayonnaise sandwich is better than the school’s PB&J!


Plus, judging packed lunches is the highlight of going on these field trips. I’ve seen a kid eat a container of spaghetti with no fork and another kid chomping on a ten ounce flank steak (uncut – no knife packed of course). It really shows which kids have the survivor instinct.


So while the trip was fun and the Holiday Train show was all that it was hyped up to be, I couldn’t wait to get back home and scarf down the contents of my fridge. Wouldn’t you know it – we were all out of ham and cheese.

Is it time for lunch, yet?


Author: Namzola_Goodness

A Japanese-American who grew up in the streets of New York during the racially volatile 70's, Nami blogs with guts, heart and humor. Dysfunctional parenting, cynical citizenship of beer to wash it all down.

10 thoughts on “Better Bento”

  1. Reminds me of the stuff Christopher’s school in London served up. More of a hit/miss kind of thing. Occasionally, his lunchroom food was okay. But when it wasn’t, it was just disgusting! I wouldn’t even call it food.

    Nowadays, Christopher brings a packed lunch to school. It’s a whole lot cheaper and I have complete control over what goes in there. Whether or not he eats it all is another story. He always wolfs down his PORK filled Salami sandwich!!

    That’s really nice of you to share your ham/cheese sandwich, with your son’s classmate. You’re a good mommy.

  2. Eeewwwww! That sounds truly gross! You are such a good mum for volunteering yourself to each such crap. Then again, you didn’t have a choice, huh ?
    I used to think our canteen food was just the best. Cold meat full of preservatives and soggy lettuce leave sandwiches. Yummo!
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