After taking a quick and thoroughly unscientific straw poll, it seems that the concept of making your own lunch at work divides the troops – somewhat aggressively. One senior magazine editor we know looks at her lunch-buying colleagues with nothing short of a mixture of pity and contempt that they could be so lazy/unimaginative/ripped off. Others have literally laughed in our faces at the thought that anyone with a proper job would ever have the time to do anything as domestic goddess-y, let alone organized, and seem more than happy to flit like drones between Pret, Itsu and Leon, racking up weekly bills of in excess of £30. Still, however loudly the naysayers shout, the move towards packed lunches is happening more and more, and one book that we think will inspire a few extra converts is this one.
The Little Book of Lunch begins its journey – as all gastronomic adventures that do not require a restaurant should do – with receptacles to carry your food in, from the eco-friendly cotton tote to the retro tin, which gives an idea of the thought that’s gone into this rather lovely project. In the pages that follow, often recipes are divided into various sections (to be transported in jam jars or thermos etc) that you bring in separately and throw together at the last minute so everything remains, crunchy, buttery, creamy, fresh and tart – just the way you’d like.
Recipes veer from summer (an Enid Blyton watercress sandwich that’s great for outdoors) to winter (falafel with yoghurt, aubergine and red cabbage salad); from those rather sumptuous things that can be prepared the night before (roasted red peppers with anchovy and tomato), to those that use leftovers (a rather delicious sounding chicken Pho – or Faux Pho as they call it, which you bring to the office in different parts and throw together at the last minute), to lunches you have when you are “chained to your desk” (spicy root veg soup). Our favourite, though, was the Spanish Lunch: a chorizo, boiled egg and new potato salad. And, of course, last but not least, there is a sandwich hall of fame, with some interesting takes on old classics and instructions about what to add and assemble when.