- taking screenshots is annoying
Oh...uh, what is the show about? It's a four-part documentary that follows Jamie Oliver as he tries to improve school dinners (my assumption is that "dinner" = lunch) in Britain. He starts at Kidbrooke School to learn the ropes of how a school kitchen works (slice open bags of food, reheat food) and get an alarming reality check into the psychology of kid's eating habits. All they want are chips. Nuggets of some reconstituted meat products. No fruits or vegetables. Golden and fried, just the way arteries em. He tries to come up with healthier choices that stay within the budget of 37p (about 69 cents) per portion, but it's...um, really hard, especially coming from a business where one prices the food based on whatever it's made of, not the other way around. And come on—37p?
Things get a little better in the second episode when he visits a primary school in Durham, the county with the highest rate of health problems in children in the country. He teaches the kids to identify vegetables and gets them involved in cooking their own meal so that they'll eventually want to eat the fresh cooked stuff made from whole foods instead of processed foods like turkey twizzlers. It also helps that he dresses up like a stalk of corn and lets the kids chase him around as he dashes around in mutant-corn form.
Nora, the head dinner lady at Kidbrooke, is a real character. She knows what she's doing, she's insanely dedicated to her job, she wants the kids to eat well, and...she likes a good smoke. Initially, Jamie may act like a hardass as Nora tries to get him to follow the correct procedures to make sure all the food gets out on time (it doesn't), but after implementing a job switch where she works at his restaurant Fifteen for a day while he takes control of the school kitchen, they understand better where the other person is coming from. AND ALL IS GOOD, HAPPY SMILES, WEE.
...Actually, I don't know that yet, seeing as I haven't watched the last two parts of the show, but I'll get on that.
Has anyone else seen this show and thought it was pretty awesome? I think it's pretty awesome, certainly the most interesting show I've seen in a while. I'll admit that I don't watch TV anyway, but if a show sounds interesting enough, I'll watch it. I tried Top Chef, but it didn't do anything for me. It'd be great if a famous American chef could try to improve public school lunches and start some kind of campaign for better food, assuming there isn't already something like that in place (is there?).
When I was in high school, I was frustrated by how bad the food was. And...it wasn't even that bad. The less objectional foods were salads, pizza, and sandwiches (I usually went for sandwiches, at least until I stopped eating the school food, opting instead to eat lunch after I got home around 3 PM), while the ones I found more distasteful were the "fast food"-type junk (am I the only person who doesn't like curly fries?) and the hot lunches. Although I can't remember what all the hot lunches were, one of them sticks out in my mind: nachos. Yeah. A pile of tortilla chips with some watery ground beef, salsa, shredded iceberg lettuce, excessive sour cream, maybe some cheese...actually, it wasn't really the worst thing in the world, but it seemed like a sad idea for a lunch. Then again, I must've eaten it on a few occassions to assess its sadness.
The food in my high school was made by Aramark. When Aramark followed me to Vassar, something inside me screamed, "NOOOOOO!!" The food at Vassar was much, much better than in high school, of course, but it surely isn't going to win any awards. (To give Vassar props, students successfully introduced some local foods and produce into the dining facilities when I was there in '03-'04; I'm not sure what that program is like today. Vassar even has its own farm, although I don't know if any of that food was actually eaten on campus. The best strawberries I've ever eaten were picked fresh from their farm and ruined all subsequent strawberry eating experiences.)
Do I still have anyone's attention? You'll have to forgive me for rambling here without the aid of food porn. Writing blog entries for me doesn't take much planning. I have no outline and my thoughts are not as organized as I'd like them to be. I think I have a point...or I had a point...
Okay, I'll just ramble on some more. For no reason, I'll fill you in on the history of my school lunch eating experiences. In my town, the elementary schools didn't have cafeterias. I thought it was normal to eat at your desk until I moved to Taiwan and from talking to other people found out that...nope, that's kinda weird. (I think by now the three elementary schools that I've attended have expanded and include some kind of dining facilities.) This means that I didn't have to rely on school to provide me with lunch, aside from the exciting pizza days (which I look back on in horror after eating pizza in NYC and learning that a slice of pizza shouldn't be 90% cheese nor should it be dripping in fluorescent, nearly glowing orange oil).
People frequently ask me what my mum cooks, to which I reply that she doesn't, not on a regular basis at least. However, she used to cook all the time when I was little (out of necessity more than desire) and I have to thank her for providing me with food that was probably a lot better than what other kids were getting. I ate chips, but I was unfamiliar to the world of snack cakes, candies, cereal, and whatever else constituted as popular snacks for kids. I'd imagine that being surrounded by kids eating certain foods would've made me want to eat them too, but...it didn't. For some reason I remember one day looking at a friend search her backpack for her food and finding a smushed package of Twinkies. It didn't really look like food to me.
Don't get me wrong; I ate lots of junk food, just less than the average American, perhaps. While trying to remember what it is my mum packed for me, they were mainly leftovers from the previous night's dinner. I was the only kid with a thermos of rice and some accompanying protein. Many times it was leftover chicken fingers from Market Basket, which didn't taste that great since the yummy part of the chicken finger, the crust, was soggy. I think I may have gotten salmon, beef stew, or Swedish meatballs on a few occasions. It wasn't the most balanced meal, but I preferred it over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (not that my mum ever made PB&J sandwiches).
Looking back, I'm surprised I didn't express more distaste towards having different food from other kids. Have you ever read stories by people from immigrant families about how growing up they wanted American food instead of their ethnic cuisine so that they'd fit in better? ...Or did I just make that up? I'm positive there was an article in Giant Robot at some point.
I guess I didn't have that problem because I never fit in anyway (something that's still true today). I never saw the point of it, except maybe during one short period in 4th grade. (I considering 4th grade to be the "turning point" in elementary school when things went from happy and innocent to craptastic and cliquey.)
...My god, I'm just a strange kid. To be honest, I don't think I've changed much over my whole life. Many improvements to my character could be made, but I guess I'm more comfortable with the way I am than I thought I was. ...Wait, did that make any sense? [shrugs]
HOLY CRAP, WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT?! Back to food!
The best school food I've ever had was at Taipei American School, which I attended during 6th and 7th grades. It's not fair to compare their food to what I've had in the US since its a private school, but I just want to point it out. According to my friends, since I left their food has gotten a lot better. The food services website is pretty funny if you care to look around it.
Um. I still don't know what the point of this entry is.
OHHH, Jamie Oliver. I didn't know much about him before, but now I think he's pretty cool. He's not perfect, but he puts a lot of effort into improving school's food and doesn't back down. Watching the dedication he, Nora, and all the other school food service workers showed in efforts to improve school food made me wish I could do the same . It's not like I'm worried about my kids eating crap in school (seeing as I have no kids, nor do I plan on having them); it's just something that I think is important. Because...because...
I hated high school and 8th grade, i.e. the years I spend in the US public school system after moving back from Taiwan. It had nothing to do with teachers, even though that seems to be central to most kids' hatred of school (well, in my school at least). My classmates...just did nothing for me. They disappointed me with their disregard for how hard it is to be a teacher, their rudeness, stupid actions, constant complaining, laziness...sure, I complain about things, I'm lazy, and I do stupid things, but some of my classmates took these characteristics to a level that made me want to strangle them, or hope that they'd get the shit beat out of them in some way. I'm not that violent, I swear!
In my entire schooling career, I never felt like any teacher was out to get me or did anything unfair. I'm not saying that these teachers don't exist (surely, they do), just that I never had to encounter them. These are the kinds of complaints I heard from my friends and peers constantly, and while I may not know for sure that my teachers were innocent of any wrongdoing, my impression was that all they wanted to do was teach us, regardless of whether they were actually good at it. Duh. It's got to be one of the most difficult jobs; I could never do it. What I couldn't understand during high school was why the majority of other students didn't seem to realize how hard it was to teach us and that we were lucky to have good teachers. I guess you wouldn't care if you're an asshole though, which quite a number of students were. To be honest, many of my classmates were perfectly fine people, but it's the annoying ones you remember most clearly.
Good god, I don't know what my point is.
...Maybe if people ate better food, they would suck less. I know that eating a salad doesn't make you an angel, nor does eating a candy bar automatically make you an ADD-afflicted incarnation of the anti-Christ, but on a widescale serving wholesome food to kids has got to make some difference in the way they act and think. Kids would become more nutritionally-conscious, hopefully.
I just remembered a random thing that I'll shove in here because I don't know where else to put it. When I came back to NJ in 8th grade, I was completely unaware of what a hall pass was. To go to the bathroom, I needed a hall pass. To go to the office, I needed a hallpass. Was the piece of plastic going to keep me safe in case a locker fell on me? I dunno. In TAS, we had no hall passes. If you had to pee, you had to pee. There was no sense of distrust because why would you leave the class unless you had a good reason? I didn't understand the need to hover over us 8th graders, but I guess the school had their reasons. Or maybe they were just really paranoid.
I dunno what the point of that anecdote was, but as I've already typed it, I'll just leave it there.
On an unimportant note, the second episode of Jamie's School Dinners had music by Doves, Bell & Sebastian, and Blur. That's a pretty cool mix.
If you read this far, you're kind of crazy. It's memorial day weekend! Relaxation! Whatnot! I feel like I should be at a barbecue.