This and That Lunch

I can’t tell you how many times I have vowed to start bringing my lunch to work and failed. Seriously, it’s like New Year’s Eve mixed with Groundhog Day. I never make it more than a week before I get sick of sandwiches, my Tupperware smells like tomato sauce, or my attempt at a healthy salad leaves me with a sense of existential lack and I’m forced to eat a cupcake to make it all better. Our staff caf isn’t great, but it’s way better than most and they always serve a starch, a vegetable, and a meat or fish. It’s hard to hit all those notes with a packed lunch.

A lovely solution is what I’m now going to coin the “This and That Lunch.” Last week, the good people at Gustiamo invited me to lunch at their warehouse and office in the Bronx. As lunchtime approached, the staff pulled a table into the center of the room, set it with real plates, utensils, and water glasses, and put out a spread composed of leftovers from home, brought by everyone. There was some swiss chard served straight from the Tupperware, homemade bread, a couple of slices of warmed-up pepperoni pizza, roast chicken, a few lamb chops, and a mixed-greens salad.

Given that we were also in a warehouse of imported Italian foods, they had a bottle of gorgeous Tuscan olive oil for the salad, as well as delicious caponata that could make even Casey like eggplant. It was warm, communal, relaxing, nutritionally balanced, and economical.

Now I know that taking lunch is not something that many office workers make a priority, at least here in New Yorkistan, where taking a lunch hour is perceived as something special if not indulgent. But consider that if you could get just two or three of your colleagues to sit down together for a This and That Lunch, you could be eating a fully balanced meal without cracking open your wallet. Also, think of the environmental benefits of using real flatware and utensils! (I feel shame when I think of how many plastic forks I’ve sent to die in landfills for the next 300 years.) Finally, it’s just good for the soul to carve out the time to sit down, enjoy your food, and talk to the people with whom you spend your day.

P.S. You can pitch in a few of your saved bucks for a French press and enjoy communal afternoon coffee in these faux-street cart coffee cups!

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  1. Hmmmm – I would have to try the caponata firsthand to be convinced, but anything would be better than the sad salad lunch out of a plastic clamshell. How do people DO that every day?

  2. How did you get invited to an Italian warehouse in the Bronx and didnt let me know! This sounds wonderful. Like when we would each bring a bottle of wine home for dinner in Firenze…

  3. and then we would have four bottles and somehow they all got drank…
    How we got anything done in that country I have no idea.

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