Love – in a lunchbox

A friend sent me a link for household space-saving.  One idea–a cut apple, held together with an elastic–made me think those four special sad words: I miss my mummy.

This is the picture of the apple that sent me into a mummy-missing spiral of homesickness. (Image from http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/Akuw1D/:KZNCDWCg:Xl40eSrk/chatters.co/forum/topic/61/)

Okay, well, of course I do.  I’m on Canada’s west coast.  She’s in the Bahamas.  But it’s not just the distance; it’s the life stage.  I remember being in grade two, and unpacking my morning snack at school.  It was an apple.  It had been sliced and cored, so I wouldn’t have to navigate the seeds, and lovingly rubbed with lime juice to stop it from browning.  The lime worked, kind of–the apple was slightly less brown than it would have been otherwise, and the lime gave it a little more flavour (apples do not grow in the Bahamas, so their taste and freshness there can’t quite rival, say, a summer mango).  My apple would be packaged in a margarine container–in the Bahamas, we don’t have a significant recycling programme, but are enthusiastic re-users.  I remember taking out that little lime-rubbed apple, lamenting that it wasn’t a pack of cookies or chips, then cheerfully bartering the lovingly prepared healthy snacks for all the Oreos and Funions the boy beside me would offer.  I still don’t know if he had a crush on me or just craved a little extra fibre.

In primary school, love could be packed into a lunchbox just like this. (Pity I lost the lunch box.) (photo from KitKatCabaret’s Etsy Store).

No one’s packed me a lunch in years.  Some time after I’d entered adolescence, Mummy decided, after years of bouncing out of bed to wake me with ditties and songs and see that I left the house fed, clean, and tidy (all before 7:30 a.m.), to cheerfully hand off that responsibility to me and caught those extra zzzs she so well deserved.  Years later, living alone, I fed myself for every meal, and loved it.  And I find it empowering to acquire and prepare food.  I am ingredient-slayer, hear me mix.  Grocery shopping makes me feel deliciously grown up and full-hipped, as I knowingly sniff strawberries and tap winter gourds, ear cocked for, well, I’m not sure what sound exactly, but it enhances the selection process somehow.

But there’s something so snuggly about having someone make you something.  Even lime-rubbed apples you trade for junk food.  Isn’t this what eating out is all about?  Even when restaurant food is pricey or slightly sub-par compared to the homemade equivalent, I still love that squirm-in-your-seat moment when out comes a steaming plate, heavy with edible comfort, made by someone else.  And yes, it takes me back to that vague idea of being loved that I got from that sliced and limed apple, even as I bartered it away.

And though it’s still not Mummy making it, I love having treats at friends’ homes.  A full-on spread of quinoa and black beans, forbidden rice with sweet potatoes, two or three kinds of veg, and dessert.  A lovely lunch of roasted root vegetables, homemade guacamole, and chips.  Even just a tea.  It brings that knowledge that, yes, this was made with care, was made for me.  And it makes me feel a little like a tiny, spoiled girl.

I don’t eat apples often; when I do, I never cut them up beforehand.  But there are times when I’d kill for one of those slightly browned, tart-tinged little apples, and to know that someone babied me that much.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. ethelthedean says:

    This is such a lovely post. My mom used to always send me to school with cut up carrots and cherry tomatoes, and to this day I take them almost everyday to work with me. I also love, love a cut up granny smith apple.

    1. J L says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed 🙂 It’s amazing how these little food memories linger…and also cool to have healthy mothers that stocked us with fruits and veggies early on.

  2. kyarul says:

    IS that a photo of my actual lunchbox? Do they still sell these? Mine was that colour and style!!

    1. They’re quite the vintage item, apparently. Mine was just like that too, before I left it in Miss Thompson’s grade 1 classroom and some vagabond teefed it. I found this image on etsy. Apparently it can now be purchased as a specialty retro item. If only we’d known…

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