Eat Trade Love

September 6, 2011

We`re getting ready for back to school and I`m again putting together supplies for lunches. When Teen Spirit was starting out, his school didn't have a cafeteria.  We had no choice but to make his lunch every day.  I will cop to the fact that I made a litte foodie out of him.  What other 5 year old would request only the restaurants that had "good bread."  I had repressed the fact that I had raised the bar so high, it was like a never-ending episode of Iron Chef America. All this came back to me when I was poking around online looking for some new lunch ideas. I stumbled upon the bento box-- Japanese-style lunch boxes.  Food is carefully portioned, decorated and fussed over to create beautiful edible panoramas.  It`s a highly competitive enterprise -- appearing to be yet another elusive marker of exemplary motherhood. A bento of the highest order proves what a great mom you are.  Great, something else I can stress over. 

I immediately harrumped off the website --- and clicked on another three.  Page after page of hardboiled eggs cut and trimmed to resemble cheery daisies or roses,  smiley faces made with melon, citrus and  blueberries. Three tiny broccoli heads sat nesting in a tiny compartment like sleeping bonsai. A plump cherry nestled inside a hulled strawberry.  Apples were peeled and sculpted to look like rabbits.  Stop!  Enough.  Step away from the screen. But I couldn't look away from the dainty sandwiches sliced to look like Hello Kitty. The gorgeous shapes, lines, color -- it was almost more than I could bear.  I snapped to -- who has time for this kind of fetishistic  obsessing over food -- and over a school lunch at that!  

And then I recalled how I had obsessed over Teen Spirit's elementary school likes and dislikes.  I came up with cute and fanciful names for my creations.  A ham and cheese sandwich with apricot jam was a Ham and Jam -- with fig, it became a Figgy Piggy.  Hula Spears were toothpicks with alternating chunks of turkey, pineapple and cheese. Other offerings included broccoli with garlic and sesame oil, Pilgrim wraps (turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce) and a Wonderbread pb and j chopped into various-sized circles with cookie cutters. He loved them all but by increasing the stakes I had created a monster.  I called it quits when he let it slip that the giant wedge of home baked carrot cake had yielded him a bag of Doritos, some chips and a candy bar.  He had been trading my lunches on the thriving underground school lunch exchange with the fervor of Gordon Gekko.  Excuse me while I whittle some carrots to top off my spaghetti nest and edamame dragon.  La Principessa may  need the extra bargaining power on the first day of school

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