Love of Lunch

You may have noticed by now that I love lunch. You may have noticed that I photograph my lunch whenever possible, which is always, given that I am never without my camera. Even when I am in the shower, I keep it in a neoprene case and wear it hanging from a rope around my neck, like soap on a rope. Indeed, if I ever found myself without my camera, I would render my lunch in pastels, Cray-Pas®, crayons, or, yes, body fluids, the last of which wouldn’t yield as wide a color palette as I would like, but I’d just have to make do.
So I love lunch. I love that it’s not breakfast. I love that it’s not dinner. Perhaps I adore it so much because it, like I, is the middle child. The Jan Brady of the bunch.
Lunch is my biggest meal of the day. (ASIDE: My apologies to my family, including ME, for use of the word “meal”, which for some reason we are genetically disposed to hate.) Midday is when I’m hungriest, so I like to take advantage of my hunger and treat it like a prince. (Not a princess, though, because everyone knows princesses only pick at their garden salads with lite dressing on the side and a breadstick.) Many times I will forego any sort of breakfast just so I’m like a bull in a bullpen when the afternoon rolls around, except with all that indelicate snorting and pawing.
I used to love school lunches in elementary and middle school (high school was spent avoiding the burden of eating at all costs, which is another story altogether). “Pizza buns” and tater tots was a favorite. Every Monday when the week’s menu was distributed, I would scan it feverishly in search of that combination. It determined the tenor of the whole week. No matter what else threatened to ruin the days preceding the day that combination was offered for lunch — oral book reports, presentation of dioramas, gym class — I knew there was some sort of light at the end of the rat-infested tunnel. What was a little softball game (me in the very very very far outfield) when I knew my salvation was imminent?
So yeah. Lunch. I love my lunch. And as a special treat, today the DOG and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, Candle Cafe, which we haven’t been to since I started documenting my lunches. “Hey! We can celebrate my brother’s birthday!” I said. True, he wasn’t with us, and true, we didn’t invite him, but still, that’s no reason why we couldn’t celebrate in high style in his honor. (Candle Cafe is the only one of “my” restaurants that he doesn’t make fun of. “None of my [vegan/vegetarian] restaurants are in here!” I said to him the last time he and I had lunch, as I flipped through the pages of his Zagat’s. I won’t tell you what he said in response. It was very unladylike.)
In honor of Bix’s birthday, we had this:

Pumpkin-Sage Polenta Cake (Appetizer)
Topped with caramelized root vegetables and cranberry
chutney over a bed of sauteed broccoli rabe

Tuscan Seitan Parmesan Sandwich (DOG’s dish)
Breaded seitan cutlet topped with melted soy
mozzarella and marinara sauce on a rosemary roll,
served with mesclun salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette

Cajun Seitan Steak (My dish)
Pan-seared and served over a grilled mirliton ratatouille,
lemon rice, and slow-cooked collard greens;
topped with a spicy portabello sauce

We did not have dessert. I did ogle a very seductive brownie in a Chelsea window a couple of hours later, but decided to pass. To properly celebrate my brother’s birthday, the dessert would have to be a big square of the famous “Peckinpah* cake” from his and my high school and middle school (respectively) days. Peckinpah cake (named for our school district) was a sort of German chocolate cake that we both still wax incredibly rhapsodic over and that I revered almost as much as pizza buns and tater tots. (Almost.)
When I see him next, I will have something delicious in tow to commemorate his birthday. Not to make up for not having lunch with him on his birthday but for eating a vegan lunch in celebration.
If it’s any consolation, dearest brother, please know that I consider you the pizza buns and tater tots of brothers. It doesn’t come much better than that.
* Name changed to preserve the privacy of the school district.