Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Schoolgirl's Lunch, 1896

image from Pinterest

"A girl's luncheon? You mean the school luncheon? Let it be as nice as possible, and take pains to pack it very neatly for her, so that when the recess hour comes she may take an interest in what she eats.
 Of course the ideal luncheon for Gertrude and Caroline is something hot, a nice hash or scrambled eggs, or else a chop and a baked potato, with some gingerbread, stewed fruit, oranges, or a cup-custard after it. A cup of chocolate or cocoa is good for growing girls at luncheon, and a glass of milk is a very nice addition to their bill of fare.
 But these beautiful hot luncheons cannot always be managed at school. Often the girls must carry their noonday meal from home, and as a general thing they take very little care about the matter themselves. Mamma or sister Mary must think for them.
 A dainty box or little basket, a fine soft napkin, and some paraffin paper are indispensable to the preparation of lunches. Sandwiches must be made of thin bread and butter, with potted meat, cream cheese, or jam spread between the slices. Rough edges and crusts must be cut off, and the bread and butter be of the very best. There are many delicious crackers, some salted, some sprinkled with cheese-flakes, some sweet and crisp like cookies, which are appetizing with one's luncheon. And fruit is always in order.
 If it is possible, and it usually is, to get a little boiling water, let the school-girl make for herself a cup of bouillon at luncheon. There are several excellent kinds of bouillon which come in small jars and bottles, and of which a spoonful added to a glass or cup of either hot or cold water makes a very refreshing drink. I prefer hot bouillon myself, but cold bouillon is very refreshing too, and much better with bread and butter than cold water, if the luncheon is a simple affair of that.
 A girl who eats her luncheon regularly, and avoids sweets, pastry, and candy between meals, will have bright eyes and a good complexion. She will not look sallow and pasty, nor have pimples and other signs of indigestion on her face."
 Harper’sRound Table, January 21st, 1896.


Miss Allen said...

School lunch. We lived three blocks from school, yet Mother wanted us to stay there and partake of the "food" that was offered by the school instead of having the hassle of having us troop back to the house and interrupt her day. My younger brothers were fine with this; not me.

So at 11:50, I would sprint to my locker, get my coat and boots on, run as fast as I could manage through a North Dakota winter, get home, get a toasted cheese sandwich on the stove with a can of tomato soup,or some leftovers, or a (seriously )grilled baloney sandwich, bolt down my hot,self made meal while my mother, if she was home, would grump at me about "why you can't eat at school like your brothers ". Then I would run back to school, so I could make it before 12:30.

You will understand why I had a bitter smile as I read this charming suggestion.

Lady Anne said...

At boarding school, our main meal was at noon, and supper was just a light meal, equivalent to what most people would consider lunch. However, if I had EVER suggested to my mum that she cut off the crusts of my bread, I'd resemble Anne Boleyn. However, I was adamant that I wasn't going to eat the heel of the loaf. I wanted "bread on both sides", thank you very kindly. The heels could go to the chickens. Once, she tried turning the heel to the inside of the sandwich, so the bread part showed, but I caught on to that trick, and even though the rule was "Eat it or starve", she took pity on my and didn't do it again.

Since my dad was a clergyman, we also ate our main meal at mid-day at home as often as possible, but this "luncheon" sounds lovely. It's rather like the afternoon tea you published a few days ago - so civilized and genteel.

Bunnykins said...

Public school was always home for lunch: veg soup and sandwich or scrambled eggs and milk.
High school was packed lunch: sandwich, milk from the caf and a Snow apple.
My father used to fry up bologna thick cut from the piece and Spanish onion sandwiches as soon as my mum left for her part time evg job. Or kippers, then aired the house for hours so she wouldn't make a fuss.
Crusts? It was eat your crusts or starve. School lunches and the local restaurant were off limits as they were all chips and gravy and sodas - inappropriate junk food. Plain Brit food at home. I really thank all the immigrants to my corner of the world for bringing colourful gardens and houses, and food, glorious food!
The only part I miss is the Snows which I haven't seen here in decades.

Shay said...

The very THIN bread with the crusts trimmed off...yeah, that request would have gone over like a lead balloon in our house.

That and the cup custard.

Sharon K said...

i was growing up in Georgia for school lunches, so busing, so too far away to go home for lunch. but, all food in Georgia at the time was fried (chicken, veggies, hush puppies), regardless of where you got it, or cooked with bacon fat (beans, spinach, eggs), or "cream of" soup casseroles and gravy, which does explain the heart disease in the area. i do remember canned pickled beets. most kids knew pickled beets by an aunt or grandma, but not canned. we used them with our straws for shooting. you could machine gun those straws, punching holes through the beet slices. i generally ate most everything which explained the chubby teen years. my sister preferred no crusts, but she cut hers off by herself.

Sam said...

My mother's idea of school lunch was organic peanut butter (that seperated) and store grape jelly on Pepperidge Farm white bread (thin slices of wood chips glued together) with Nilla Wafers and that was it. With 4 girls and her utter disdain for cooking this was as good as it would get. NOW Grammie had Oscar Meyer deli meats on Wonder Bread - heaven to us. But always with crusts on.

Lady Anne said...

My grandmother's family Came From Money (servants and all), but the Depression took care of most of that, and rationing during WW11 took care of the rest of it. My mum would send me to school with a linen napkin, and my sandwiches packed in a waxed paper or plastic cereal bag, with STRICT instructions to bring the bag home to use again. It's really no wonder I have a split personality. Split? Oh, heck! It's practically shredded!

Lady Anne said...

For the sake of clarification, I went to public school from 1st to 3rd grades, then boarding school from 4 through 9, and back into public school for 10th through 12. Since tenth grade is a certain sort of Hell all by itself, never mind being thrown into a co-ed situation from an all-girls school, the cereal bags were just the icing on the cake.

Kathleen C. said...

Mom made lunches for five kids who didn't share the same fondness for mayonnaise or mustard as each other. So she would pre-make sandwiches (usually baloney) with the proper condiments and cutting, bag them and freeze them, several days at a time. Then in our lunch bag would be cool, but thawed, sandwich, piece of fruit, maybe chips, and a paper napkin with a handwritten note to remind us that she was thinking of us.
The napkin was the best part of lunch.

Shay said...

Lady Anne -- carrying one's lunch in 10th grade automatically put you with the non-cool kids anyway.

Kathleen, your mother sounds much more organized than I could ever be (although with five children she probably had to be).

Anonymous said...

What IS it with cutting the crusts off??? I suppose it started as some kind of artificial refinement in reaction against medieval "black bread trenchers," but by the time this article was written, standardized commercial yeast was making a good crust very easy to achieve reliably. I admit that I only like the heel off a perfectly fresh loaf (that I baked, or from the local granola-people bakery), or toasted, but the heel does dry out easily.
If you're eating wonder bread, the crust is the only part with any texture recognizable as food, and now (as a result?) we have a whole segment of the baking population totally dedicated to the "perfect crust." How things change.

Shay said...

I know. I've been reading some 1950s-60s cookbooks and the amount of breadcrust that must have resulted from all that trimming would have been staggering.

I hope it got made into breadcrumbs or stuffing or SOMETHING.