This week is kyushoku (school lunch) week in my (not so) lazy, little town, and in celebration we’ve been treated with old treats that have become unheard of or even anachronistic in our day and age. For example, yesterday we had WHALE.
It wasn’t half bad.
But rare to see indeed!
Kinda like what lunch looks like at the schools in my area… but this one is a little more fancy. No whale here! (link)
Japanese lunch programs are pretty good from what I can tell. Keeping aside the odd combinations we have some days (udon AND rice AND bread….FTW!), lunches are served hot (or at least warm) and appear to be carefully calibrated for the needs of a growing child, according to caloric value, food pyramid balance, and lack of mouse feces. Wonderful!
I dunno about you, but the lunch program I ate in elementary school in New Westminster was pretty raunchy. It was never warm, and in fact it was stored in white plastic bags that were kept in freezers until our consumption. Some days the meat danishes were still frozen on the inside.
The worse were the EGG SALAD sandwiches… I dunno what it was, but the egg just tasted putrid. YOU’LL NEED A WHOLE SHIT LOAD MORE MAYO TO COVER THAT TASTE UP! NOBODY liked them! Well, there was always one lucky kid in the class who did, and got to pig out on all the egg salad left on the ‘sharing table.’
Then high school was the regular greased-out menu. When I got a pizza in the cafeteria, I would tip it on its side before eating it so all the oil could drain off. Pretty sick.
But I digress. As Kyushoku Week is this week, I was treated with a little history of kyushoku in my town. I translate:
…The school lunch as we know it today originated 55 years ago [1958, right?]. At the time, bread, powdered skim milk, and a side dish was all that made up the lunch. The milk didn’t taste very well, but it was nutritious. Thanks to that milk, it’s said that those children grew up very strong.
The lunch we are serving today is much like what was served in schools 40 years ago. One popular item of the day was whale. In fact, whale would appear on the menu once a month. We don’t eat whale much these days, do we?
For the first 20 or so years of lunches served in schools, bread was the only grain consumed. Bread was served with some other side dish, but lunches consisting of more than this were rare indeed. Rice wasn’t served at lunch until roughly 35 years ago, and even then was only served once a week.
School lunch is full of history, and many people take care to ensure that you are able to enjoy a good meal everyday. There are many people in the world who don’t have food to eat like we do. Give thanks for the food you have.
Powdered milk and bread for lunch everyday – - that’s practically prison food by Western standards!
I think a lot of people forget (or have no idea) that Japan was a very poor nation only half a century ago. You know That 70′s Show? Well, just imagine that when that show is set, most people in Japan were living in little shacks, started smoking even before teenagehood, worked in mines toiling for coal and other minerals, and were probably beaten by their teachers. No joke.
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So what kind of school lunch did you eat as a kid? Do you know anything about the history of your country’s lunch programs?