I have never been a packed-lunch type of girl. I have always adored that hour of fresh air we are granted during our workday.
Contractually we should work eight-hour days, in reality we never work less than ten. Most often work is bearable. However, there are definitely times that push us to the limit. There are times that test our ability to remain calm and level headed. Times where our relationships with others are tried, our emotions are put on trial, and our work processes are meticulously examined.
It’s at this point in time that the hour of fresh air may seem like a mirage… and where a lunch box can save your life, literally.
Packed lunch has long belonged to our collective cultural consciousness. Back to the dawn of the industrial era, where worker’s clenched their layered tin cans between callused hands as they dragged their feet to the factory.
Perhaps you recall that old faded photograph from the Great Depression, portraying New York construction workers lunching on a crossbeam? Skyscrapers button the background in a misty haze; a single girder supports the weight of eleven men, and lunch packs, imaginably with carefully wrapped cucumber and mustard sandwiches are judiciously peered into.
In 2013 a beautiful Indian film entitled “The Lunch Box” was released. It tells the story of a mistaken distribution in Mumbai’s lunchbox delivery system, which inevitably connects a young housewife to an older man in the dusk of his life. They build an illusory world together through letters left in the lunchbox. It’s a film that undoubtedly illustrates how certain objects possess emotional, social and cultural meaning beyond their mere functionality.
Unsurprisingly, the lunch box is one of the most reinterpreted design objects of today. And almost always, designers are in fact restaurants that are cementing their gourmet interpretations. Largely because restaurants are found in the vicinity of large working areas, and obviously have an involvement and invested interest in the realm of food. Alas, the same question is being attended to over again: through the quality of what one eats, the consumer can protect the quality of his or her life.
So, if the individual must eat sitting at a desk, enclosed within four walls, in front of a screen dancing with numbers then the gastronomic experience should be excellent. In an ideal world my lunch box would gift me a delicate morsel that would transport me somewhere else, to a more colourful and exciting place. And with every exceptional forkful, that place would become less ethereal.
Image © The Foodorialist
Andrea Berton of Ristorante Berton, a Michelin starred restaurant in Milan, gives his workers a seriously good lunch box. A white cardboard box that, in this particular case, contains a refined four-course lunch that is ideal for the city’s sweltering summer. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil, followed by curried barley with chicken and prawns. Then a chicken salad with green apple and mint, and finally, mixed seasonal fruit with apple compote.
For this perhaps I would relinquish my hour of fresh air and take to my desk.
I guess I could survive.
Francesca Romana Gaglione writes, interviews and shoot on thefoodorialist.com, a food focused editorial project you should bookmark right now.
Image © The Foodorialist