Since the pandemic, we’ve established lunch with my husband as a welcome and necessary break in the day. Now that our kids are in school 5 days a week, we find lunch to be a short time to connect and brief each other in a way that we can’t over a rapid breakfast making a lunch bag for my son and folding laundry or the tired but also chaotic making of dinner. Sometimes we’ll have an egg cheese and bacon burrito, a sandwich, or a Trader Joe’s item du jour. Some favorites right now: doctor the TJ’s pad thai from the frozen section with some pan-fried shrimp and extra sriracha; tuna sandwiches on herbed Macrina baguette and BBQ Kettle chips, or a giant spinach salad with boiled egg, cheese, almonds, beet and balsamic vinaigrette.
But before the pandemic - my lunch experiences were vast!
When I worked at the media company in New York City, one of my favorite lunch routines was to go to Washington Square Park with a designer on my team. We’d routinely bring a water and get a Mamoun’s falafel for $3 and then sit and people watch. That was fun and completely necessary for my mental health because it’s one of the few times in my life I pulled 12 hour days trying to launch a product.
The startup in Florida was occasionally a bagged lunch, but more often than not I’d go out with the pack of guys on the frontend development team. We’d cross the street in an Office Space-like Chotchky’s experience and talk about interests outside of work. Sometimes we’d drive a short way to get a sandwich. I don’t remember eating at my desk a lot. I remember getting cold and hungry while I sat in the air conditioning and then stepping out into the dank humid air and suddenly only wanting a salad.
Lunch at the food co-op in Seattle was mostly at my desk. I worked in a room with 6 other people and we all would usually warm up our food in the microwave and then chat lightly while resizing and tweaking food photography for various marketing purposes. Sometimes to get fresh air I’d walk across the University Bridge and gaze at the boats going by and pick up a croissant sandwich at Le Fournil.
My first work experience was at the financial software company in midtown Manhattan. I’d go to Koreatown and get something tasty and quick to bring back with me. Sometimes I’d grab something at Pret a Manger and slowly walk past all the quirky and very specific shops in the Garment District. We had a vending machine at work that dispensed snacks but were regularly asked to limit ourselves to 1 pack of things a day. I remember the very specific feeling of making myself a 4th cup of tea to get a break in my afternoon.
What’s your lunch routine?
My lunch routine here in Madrid varies depending on the day (I cherish days when I have longer lunches and can grab a coffee and go to the park), but I usually eat something homemade. Occasionally, I’ll go out for lunch, and I love taking advantage of something called menús del día here. It’s a fixed menu of the day that usually includes a first course, main course, and either coffee or dessert for a special price.
When I lived in Chicago, I ate at my desk almost every day, and when I wasn’t eating at my desk, I was eating in a conference room during a meeting. It was so different from the more laidback lunch routine in Spain!