Updated: May 1, 2021
The reader may ask,
"Exactly what makes you a food expert?"
I am guilty of consuming food many times a day, nearly every day of my life. Except, of course, when prepping for colonoscopies; BUTT, here's the twist.
My best lunch happened more than sixty years ago at St. Martha's Grade School Cafeteria in Akron, OH. Haven't matched it since.
Our St. Martha Cafeteria was managed by Mrs. Fargo.
She did an outstanding job, except for an over reliance on canned green beans and that oh so wonderful Spanish rice. It was the hand she was dealt.
Maybe once a month a woman named Grace Fanelly would step up to the culinary plate.
Mrs. Fanelly was the high priestess of pizza.
Not just any pizza, mind you, but a thick, yeasty bread-y pizza baked on those huge commercial metal pans. A kind of Detroit style pizza on steroids. The pieces were cut square, tomato sauce and mozzarella bubbling, just the basics, no other toppings. The smell of the baking pizzas wafted through the classrooms and halls of St. Martha's, maybe even the two Annex classrooms out back.
By the time the lunch bell rang, students were snaking through the hallways, waiting to enter the kitchen's inner sanctum, trays in hand. Pizza and the sides were plated in the kitchen on faux wood dishes that were made of bakelite. They looked scuffed after dozens of washings.
What's a meal without sides?
Sides of the best ever lunch included a leafy green salad with a white vinegar sugar dressing and St. Martha apple crisp, warm with crunchies on on top. Chocolate milk was the drink of choice. After lunch, 1 cent pretzel sticks were an option. I always tried to get the stick with the most salt.
How do you match a meal such as that? You can't!
If Mrs. Fanelly were here today, she would be featured on
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
and her fame would spread far and wide. Thank you, Mrs. Fanelly!
I forgot to mention that aluminum meal coins were issued that read, "Good for 1 Lunch".
I remember the Monday morning ritual of taking my change up to Sister Mary Something (my memory seems selective) in exchange for the tokens.
Some of the kids missed out on the pizza feast, but, they got to bring a lunch from home sometimes.
I remember doing this once in a while, and I think I had a Roy Rodgers lunch box.
Did you have a lunch box too?