In Praise of Lunch

I love having lunch out! I always have. One of the things I disliked about teaching was having to eat in the staff lounge. And, years ago, as a mother of two young boys, lunch out was fraught with challenges. As an innkeeper, I ate lunch out nearly every day and considered it my sanity break. It got me out of the inn for at least an hour a day, an hour when I didn’t have to answer questions other than “what will you be having today”? I tended to lunch alone with a good read in hand, one hour of the day when I wasn’t surrounded by staff or guests. And it was one hour a day when I was with people who had nothing to do with innkeeping. Lunch out refreshed me, restored me, and I had more energy when I returned to the inn. And now that I am retired, I still like to lunch out.

Lunch. And because I eat lunch out all the time, I find that far too many chefs and restaurants give lunch barely a second thought, more like an afterthought.

In Europe lunch is often the main meal, but in the US and Canada, lunch is more likely to be a quick sandwich or burger slapped on a plate rather than elegantly and creatively plated.

And so, since here we talk about food, I want to share my love of lunch with you.

The best meal I have ever eaten was actually a lunch in a Swiss farmhouse kitchen, savoring the fresh bread the farmer’s wife made that morning topped with morels in a wine and cream sauce, croute aux murilles. I drool just thinking about it and it has been more than 40 years since I had this experience. As I have often noted, it isn’t just the food – although this meal was simply to die for – it’s the total experience – here in the kitchen on a Swiss farm with close family.

Another memorable lunch was at an art museum. It was traditional until quite recently that the meals in museums were as bad as the art in restaurants. Fortunately, that has changed! While in Phoenix at the Heard Museum, I had the most creative and most delicious stacked salad.

It was so good that I just had to take a photo of it, never thinking I would be writing about it 15 years later!

Having been an innkeeper in Lenox, MA, for 17 years, I enjoyed many great lunches. The daily stew at Alta. Dining at the bar at Bistro Zinc. And then there was my favorite, a caprese sandwich on Church St. Café’s renowned porch. To sit on that spacious porch, surrounded by greenery, enjoying my favorite lunch did a lot more for my mental health than an hour with a therapist!

Now I am in Philadelphia where my favorite lunch is at Parc on Rittenhouse Square. With well-placed heaters, you can dine outside just about year-round and think you’re in Paris! My favorite lunch there is the roast beef on a freshly baked seeded baguette. I’m sure there are other wonderful choices on the menu, but no matter how determined I am to try something new, I always get the roast beef.

And I have recently returned from visiting my son in Napa. In nearby St. Helena, I had a most memorable lunch of crab cakes, seen in the photo above, beautifully plated, in an unforgettable , simple, and sophisticated restaurant, Archetype.

Please share your lunch experiences with us.




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