School Lunch Confidential February 2017

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Hello and welcome back to School Lunch Confidential.  Again this year I realize it is hard to make time to eat school lunch! I remember this problem from last year, where I didn’t manage to even eat school lunch once before December when I had some vacation. After the blur of the PTSD-inducing presidential election, the holidays, and some well appreciated rain, I was finally able to slip away for a quiet lunch on a cloudy Wednesday in early February at my local OUSD campus, Topa Topa Elementary. It was a joy to see all the plants in the school gardens flourishing with the welcome moisture! I was hoping to get the spaghetti with homemade sauce rather than the chicken tenders that were on the calendar for that day, but when I arrived, apparently neither was available and I got a hot dog instead.  Hopefully this bait and switch thing can be worked out for next year so that lunch connoisseurs such as myself (as well as the students, I guess) aren’t so often disappointed. There were several good points about the hot dog meal. The hot dog was fine: I actually like hot dogs (almost as much as I like corndogs, as I have addressed in a previous blog).  The bun was a tasty whole wheat affair.  There was plenty of ketchup available. There was a yummy banana.  The carrot wedges were refreshingly crispy and tasted like carrots (I can only assume that OUSD is responding to an observation in this blog last year about nasty bendy carrot wedges) My main complaint this time was about the chickpeas.  I am very diligent about eating all my food and even I was having trouble stomaching plain chickpeas that appeared to be straight out of the can.  I had originally filled the well in my lovely compostable tray with ranch dressing with the intention of dipping the carrots in it.  I had some of that left over and attempted a sort of slurry with the chickpeas that was a slight improvement, but I still could not finish them. Back home after my meal I was ruminating about the chickpea thing. It seemed to me that there was an easy solution to this problem that was hovering just out of my grasp…  What is a tasty way to serve chickpeas that actually works well with carrot wedges? Of course: it’s hummus!  In fact, I have been served exactly that healthful combo at various high-end foodie-oriented Food for Thought events over the years.  Surely this is something that OUSD Nutrition services can handle: chickpeas, tahini, oil, water, garlic, salt.  I believe one just mushes it all up together. Just a thought. I hear through the Food for Thought grapevine that OUSD will be modernizing and upgrading the school kitchens over the summer.  I look forward to enjoying more innovative homemade recipes as the nutrition services staff is empowered to do their stuff. And if I am ever served hummus for lunch I will certainly be taking all the credit for that.   Until next time: Off the record and uncensored, Helen Petroff

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