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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Kids’ School Lunches

Please tell my kids that they are not normal when it comes to weekday lunches.  I try to relate the splendor of peanut butter and jelly, but they’re not buying.  Anyway, that may be a thing of the past, since many schools have outlawed the protein-packed nut spread.

The four of them believe it’s normal to have three hot meals a day, each with multi-courses.  Somehow, Benedetto has transformed these Russian emigres into Italian wannabes.  They would do quite well in Italian public schools where students eat “pranzo a mensa” with four full courses at noontime.  They could start with soup or pasta, the seconda might be anything from meat to fish, cheese or eggs, then a side of veggies, and finally a dessert of cake or fruit.

Don’t these kids eat at home?

I, on the other hand, would be quite happy to give them, instead of the scuola fine dining experience, the five-minute autostrada experience.  Patrons eat at Italian highway rest stops standing up around diminutive round tables at chest height, perfect upon which to rest one espresso saucer, while they wolf down their pressed panini.  These hot sandwiches can be filled with grilled vegetables, or cheese, or thin slices of meat.  There is no extra cost for the ambience of pushing, shoving, hungry highway travelers.

For me, lunch is a business deal:  get in, get out, sign on the line.  Or, in this case, get back to class.  Leisurely chit-chat and lively conversation can be saved for dinnertime.  No three-martini lunch, more like a three-minute lunch.

On a positive note, my husband recently acquired a sandwich press.  One of his new, most-loved gadgets, he’s more than happy to pitch in and make the kids hot, flattened sandwiches for lunch if he’s available.

As long as there’s soup or hot pasta to accompany….

Russian school lunches are hot and heavy, not that my kids ever saw any of these in the orphanage.  There would be the ubiquitous soup, followed by cutletti and some kind of starch (potatoes, rice, or pasta).  Tea and a bulochka (roll) rounded things out.  Not bad.

In Israel, students tend to bring cheese sandwiches from home; in India, it might be the thin, round chapatti bread, perfect for scooping up potato curry served alongside with yoghurt or buttermilk.  French and Japanese schools engage in multi-course affairs, with the French emphasizing good nutrition and manners, and the latter emphasizing student health with correct eating habits.  The cost is highest in Japan, where a school lunch costs just over $26, yet students only pay a fraction of the price.  I wonder if young kids eat seaweed sushi at six times the normal cost of a school lunch?

With competition like that, soup and sandwiches don’t sound so bad, after all.

What do your kids have for lunch?



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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Linda says:

    In Finland, kids get free lunches in school and nurseries , just normal everyday food, there’s usually two choices, meat and vegetarian. As drinks there’s water or milk.
    It’s all very nice, even if it usually is quite bland.
    And now of days there’s usually a snack if the kids have to stay “long” in school…

    • avatar admin says:

      It really does make sense, Linda, don’t you think? That type of system puts less stress on the families. The food is there, it’s healthy, over and out. (Of course, the 45+% taxes might help make it work-!) I think most of Europe has a healthier approach to food for their children. The two exceptions hope to turn things around, too: the Italians are trying to rein in the calories of 1/3 of the children who are overweight, and even the French are now in a panic with fast-food hitting the scene there. If we could get rid of the vending machines in schools, it would be a start….

  2. Much to my dismay, mine has canned ravioli or canned chicken noodle soup. Every day. I would give her other things, but she’s so stuck in routine that she refuses to eat them. But most days I read the school lunch and breakfast menus and I am glad she’s not eating that. On the up side, she does like to eat fresh fruit and a fair selection of fresh veggies. I love to cook things from scratch, but she mostly doesn’t like to try the stuff I cook either. Maybe someday. We got a Zo Ku Freeze pop maker (Happy Birthday to me) so we can make popsicles out of fresh fruit puree or organic juice from TJ’s..I’m trying to convert her a little at a time.

    • avatar admin says:

      This brings back memories, Wendy! I remember my mom would send me with a thermos of chicken noodle soup some days. It was my highlight, I’m telling you! Everyone thought it was so cool because it was back before microwaves (probably back before fire, too, but I digress…). If kids are eating fruits and veggies and grains and dairy, I think it all evens out. One of ours was sure she was being poisoned when we asked her to eat anything green, so we made a veggies-first rule, lol. Then she could eat the rest of her meal. Now she says that they’re not bad at all.

  3. avatar AP says:

    You sure know how to hit the sore subjects with me this week! lol!

    Older daughter quit eating lunch at school …. no idea why. When we told younger daughter there was a la carte on her card to use for “a treat once in a while” she went bonkers. $52 later – which she is still working to pay us back for – she is back to the hot lunch program.

    Meals are typical hot sandwiches and fries etc.

    • avatar admin says:

      Ooohh, the a la carte option! I had no idea…. Well, lunchtimes with me are delightful as I lecture about the nutrients in each food. Suddenly, any food that they don’t particularly like has all of these magical properties of making one smart, and strong, and boosting the brain cells, lol….

  4. Maybe Jupiter will grow up to be a nutritionist one day…

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s right, Wendy, never say never-! I grew up around a food-pusher (babushka straight off the boat…) who had known starvation as a teen during the Revolution, then in a British internment camp in Constantinople when her father put her on the last ship out of Russia, so I’m trying to strike a balance here… trying…. 🙂

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