What's on the menu for lunch today? A cheese and pickle sandwich? Quinoa salad? Chips? Will it be eaten at home, or in the pub, or al desko, scattering crumbs over your keyboard that will worm their way under the “S” key and make it ssssstick? Homemade or shop bought?
If I sound obsessed with what's in your lunchbox, it's because I am. I love to know what people are having – I ask my husband every evening (Pret sandwich, FYI). Even in the office cul-de-sac where I sit there is plenty for the dietary anthropologist to get their teeth into. There's the two-salad foodie ("I have my first lunch at noon, then another at three"), the canteen queen who would never dream of wasting money buying sushi. There's the indecisive colleague ("Crunchy or soft?") and the one whose missus makes him a sandwich every morning and savours the money it saves, but not the jeers about why the lazy git doesn't make his own. Now that I'm on an economy drive myself and sticking to soup each day, I'm even more curious about what everyone else is poking down.
So you can imagine how interested I was to read last week about the child who was sent to school with a Smartie sandwich. A school in Lincolnshire invited the NHS in to see what its charges were consuming (more lunchbox obsessives, I note) and turned up this multi-coloured morsel. Cue hand-wringing and the mooting of free school meals.
I have to say, though, that sandwich looked mighty fine. Crunchy AND soft, nice and sweet – a dietician's nightmare but I bet it went down like the devil in velvet trousers.
Or maybe it just sounds comfortingly familiar. I fondly remember the rare days when my mum sent me to school with buttered squares of bread and a stack of proto Pringles so I could build my own crisp sandwiches.
The wheels came off when she tried to wean me on to healthier fillings, mind – I wouldn't eat them and instead smuggled my sandwiches home and hid them in the back of my toy cupboard. I was no Moriarty when it came to shedding edibles, as I was found out by a sickly smell and a mouldering wall of clingfilm-wrapped bread. Punishment was swift – school dinners started the next day.
Maybe that Smartie sarnie-maker was just trying to get their kid to eat something, anything at lunchtime. Who knows? But I do feel rather peckish. Crisp sandwich, anyone?