Sweet Gummi Mary! We had a new entree on the school lunch menu today. I know. That seems kind of wrong, using the terms "entree" and "school lunch" in that manner. Kind of like associating silk purses and sows' ears. Either of which the students might have found more appetizing than chili mac.
That's a foreign food around these parts, chili mac. I made an offer the #1 son had no trouble refusing a month or so ago. "How about some chili mac to get rid of this pot of chili?"
"WHAT? Oh, gross! No!"
Seriously? A teenage boy who likes noodles and likes chili would turn down a perfectly good bowl of homemade chili over elbow macaroni? Quick! Everybody hurry on down to my proposed handbasket factory.
Maybe it's a St. Louis delicacy. Like toasted ravioli. And pork steaks. Except I'm pretty sure my kid would scarf down toasted ravioli like there's no tomorrow. When I worked on South Broadway at the unemployment office, my co-workers loved to order out chili mac. Like it was an exotic treat. They knew some restaurant that made THE BEST chili mac. I did not understand the hoopla surrounding this dish. Yet there would come the designated meal picker-upper into the break room, bearing styrofoam takeout containers of chili mac. The work force sighed orgasmically, tucked into those steaming trays of beany noodley goodness, and returned for the afternoon session all chipper and cheery.
At Newmentia, however, chili mac was not met with the same gusto. I saw exactly six students with a bowl of chili mac. The others went for the standby hamburgers and rectangular pizza. One of my lunch table cronies filled us in. Seems a cook told her that today was the first day they'd ever cooked chili mac. She said it as if they were braising possum tips. It showed up on the menu, and they had to cook it. She felt that it was a directive from above. Not the religious above. The hierarchical above. A higher up but not the top echelon, and no one from Newmentia, had somehow procured, for FREE, a giant shipload of macaroni. And it HAD to be used before the end of the school year.
Look away now if you have a weak stomach. Because that initiated a conversation on WHY macaroni must be used so quickly. Does it not keep for years, as long as you never ever get it wet? Sure, it may sprout bugs, but they're dry bugs. Not like the mold that grew on that long ago hamburger, the meat, not the bun, prompting a comment from a cook of, "We thought we'd picked out all the moldy ones. Here. Let me get you another one."
Mark your calendars. It's that time of year. You are living dangerously if you partake of school lunches from here to the end of the year.