Tuesday, May 27, 2008

School Lunch

As a representative of the middle class, I bring my lunch to school when I was in grade school and high school. My folks could not afford to give me lunch money and I was given only enough money to buy a decent snack and to pay public transportation fare to go home.

I brought lunch to school in a plastic rectangular food container, neatly tucked inside a plastic bag. My eating utensils would be covered by a piece of paper napkin (sometimes none). The ketchup would be placed in a small sealed container.

The standard fare includes the following mouth watering dishes (??), fried pork chop, chicken adobo, fried fish, tocino, longanisa or my (least) favorite-- a hotdog. Imagine a bed of white rice with the hotdog ingeniously pressed on. When you take out the hotdog it leaves a reddish mark on the rice.

We used to raid our classmate’s lunch box for their viand. One minute you are engrossed in school work, the next minute someone has stolen your hotdog. The hotdog will now be mercilessly passed out to the guys seated at the back row. When it is time for lunch, all you will have is the impression of the hotdog.

Sometimes we would swap their food. If you brought fried chicken for lunch and the guy next to you brought tocino, we would open their lunch boxes, exchange their ulam. Our lame attempt at humoring our baon is nothing compared to our class bully.

Once he took the lunch box of the class nerd, opened it in front of the class and said…

“Wow longanisa, my favorite…mwaaaaah….tsuuup” (proceeds to kiss the hapless sausage).

Once in a while, we would dig in our savings and eat at the cafeteria. Some of the weirdest things on earth I’ve seen , I saw through the cafeteria display.

In my grade school, the cafeteria operator was so stingy that our free soup was a piece of ginger, some onion slices and used meat stock. They also serve a weird dish of hardboiled egg in tomato sauce. They only serve half an egg and if you are truly unlucky the egg would not have any yolk. Sorry no complaining here. Their barbecue consisted of two small piece of lean pork and a huge slice of pork fat. Fridays would be kare-kare day. Kare-kare being two slices of string beans, a slice of eggplant and a piece of beef fat covered by a very watery peanut sauce and a morsel of bagoong.

The food portion was so small that there was one fat kid who used to eat FIVE order of cafeteria lunch a day. His mother would settle the bill every Friday.

Our High School cafeteria was always crowded, the food forgettable and the only thing I could remember was that it sold a lot of kikiam.

So we found sustenance outside. We also discovered beer. But that will have to be another story.

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