I’ve got a theory. (OK, several)
I think that school dinners are something we love to hate, that we’re conditioned to grumble about. Like the weather, the end of the holidays, children and housework. All of which (apart from housework) have much going for them if you think about it hard enough. It’s a British thing.
I’m sure we’ve all got stories of a traumatic encounter with some leathery liver or a slimy fish, or still get the dry boak at the thought of tapioca and rosehip syrup. I’m certain I once saw tripe, real actual sheep stomach, on the menu. Shudder. And what was it with using the ice cream scoop to serve mashed potato? But these horrors weren’t the whole story, were they?
I remember macaroni, and fish and chips, sausages and mash, piles of pies, lashings of jam roly-poly. Tuna bake, beans and gammon (and pineapple of course). Tinned fruit salad or soup with bread and butter. Tasty stuff. I’m certain.
School meals are back in favour this week – certainly in this house. That’s because we’re getting free ones (or Boy Three is). All Scottish pupils in the first three years of primary school get free lunches from this term. Great news and one that kills stone dead any remaining notion that my youngest son might persuade me to lovingly prepare a packed lunch. No chance, boyo, no matter how much noise you make.
There wasn’t much chance before, to be honest, given my lack of enthusiasm for making sandwiches, but when the alternative is a free nutritious meal, well, there is no alternative.
If idleness and parsimony weren’t enough, there’s all that other healthy stuff to make it easier to swallow – the economies of scale should mean the meals get better and better plus there’s the benefit of sitting with your peers to eat it. And in Boy Three’s school on two days of the week the option of sandwiches or other snacky-fayre has been removed forcing them to eat a ‘proper’ hot thing, from a plate, with cutlery.
Therefore, for the good of our children and to salve away any pain at the thought of our little darlings having to swallow something yukky, it serves us well to remember fondly the dining halls of our youth and the stout dinner ladies with their ladles.
What do you remember from the long-lost lunchtimes of your childhood?
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