You may recognize my sweet and sour green beans by their wan color and drippy brown sauce, but that's the way lunch usually rolls around here. When I make lunch for myself, I generally gather leftovers and toss them all together in a big bowl. I rarely photograph it because, as you can see, it's not usually that pretty. After all, my lunch is for my belly, not for yours, not for the blog, and certainly not for guests. I write all morning, and I'm hungry, so it's serviceable but rarely gourmet.
Fact is, I don't give my lunch much thought. Until two weeks ago, that is, when I was invited to the Stanford Design School to be interviewed about my lunch habits. If you're laughing, you should be. Why would anyone care what I ate for lunch?
Turns out a group of graduate students were participating in a weeklong immersive design workshop. Stanford Design School professors chose a topic that was familiar but that students were asked to see in a new way. This year's theme was, of course, "lunch." After observing people's lunchtime habits at local restaurants, the students were asked to interview experts in the community and to come up with innovative design solutions based on what they learned.
So in addition to a local chef, a school-aged student, someone who "does lunch" for a living (i.e. a venture capitalist) and several others, they invited me in for an hour-long interview. Always happy to further the work of the academy, I accepted.
The interview process was fascinating, not because what I eat is so interesting but because I'd never consciously thought about it before. And when someone delves into the minutiae of something you do by dint of habit alone, you can learn quite a bit about your own idiosyncrasies.
Now it's your turn to play expert. Here are some questions I was asked to think about:
1. What does lunch mean to you? Is it a means to an end or something more?
2. Is it a social or a private occasion?
3. When you eat out for lunch, as opposed to for dinner, do you tend to indulge?
4. What could restaurants do better at lunchtime?
5. Why do so many people get/make the exact same thing for lunch every day? Do you?
6. If you have children, do you think they look forward to/get excited about lunch, or is it just part of the daily routine?
7. How do you think they feel when they open their lunchboxes and see what you've made them?
8. What would your own ideal lunchbox contain?
Sadly, I had to leave town before the students finished their project and gave their presentations, so I don't know how things turned out or what innovative solutions they came up with. Perhaps I'll email them and invite them to weigh in... In the meantime, it's your turn.