Almost everyone has eaten a cafeteria hot lunch. Almost everyone who’s eaten a hot lunch has regretted eating a hot lunch. I’ve graduated past the days of dining in the cafeteria; yet by some strange quirk in the universe have found myself on the other side of the line, dishing out food to my kids and their classmates at their school cafeteria. Even though I only perform this duty once or twice a month, I always have visions of hairnets and lumpy mashed potatoes the morning before I go. Thankfully the days of hairnets are gone, but I am required to wear a cap when I volunteer. Which is bizarre - if I’m volunteering, why am I being punished? Okay, because nobody wants hair in their food. So, I opt for my U2 black, military cap and keep my fingers crossed that I won’t be serving Salisbury steak.
Maybe that’s why Alex Bradley’s book, Hot Lunch, made me laugh so hard.
Alex Bradley dives into the head of a blue-haired sophomore, Molly, with a chip on her shoulder and a defense mechanism of total sarcasm to keep her from relationships and friendships of any kind, which she believes shelters her from being hurt. What headphone-wearing Molly doesn’t expect her sarcasm will get her is a catfight with a classmate in the cafeteria, resulting in a food fight, resulting in the ultimate punishment – lunchroom duty.
Although I’ve failed in the department of learning much while topping tater tots on trays, except for maybe some school gossip, Molly learns a lot about herself, others and the importance of fresh ingredients to make actual, edible, nutritious food.
Except for a few minor profanities throughout the halls of high school, Hot Lunch is a funny, tasty treat of a book with plenty for your mind and mouth to snack on (including a few simple recipes for the non-cooks in the audience).
What’s the worst (or best) thing you’ve ever been served on a cafeteria tray?
Laura L. Smith