Lunch. It’s a tired old word which brings to mind brown-bagged leftovers, or maybe whatever sad concoction the poor lunch ladies foisted upon us. Perhaps you’ve been one of the lucky ones who noticed the popularity of bento, a Japanese lunch which can sometimes be crafted into beautiful works of art. However, most people don’t have the time or patience to learn how to craft such gems, so thankfully J.M. Hirsch is showing us a different way with his new book, Beating the Lunch Box Blues.
Hirsch, who has previously written cookbooks, is also a Food Editor for the Associated Press. In addition, he has his own food blog, Lunchboxblues.com. It was designed as a way to share ideas and encourage creativity in his son’s packed lunches when he was going through a picky-eater phase.
The genius of this book is that it is not a real cookbook. There are a few recipes throughout the book, but their purpose does not lie in their creation. Rather, these recipes were crafted intentionally to provide leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Focus on the artwork instead. It is through the photos and helpful blurbs that one gets an idea of how to create the lunch. Pizza sushi, deconstructed sandwiches into salads, and DIY taco kits are just some of the ways Hirsch invigorates his son’s meals. Turn grilled cheese sandwiches into croutons, use skewers to turn French toast into dippers, add some brown sugar and tortellini and fry up some pasta. Suddenly, there are so many more options for lunch. And for the beginner, Hirsch thoughtfully included some tips on picking the right container, how to involve kids, and some “cheat sheets” for foods that can go the extra mile for your meal.
Thrilled but uncertain? Try Lunch Box: creative recipes for everyday lunches, by Marie Breton for more lunchtime tips and ideas. If you’re creating lunch with a kid in mind, check out Best Lunch Box Ever: ideas and recipes for school lunches kids will love, by Katie Morford. If you just like JM Hirsch's style, check out his cookbook High Flavor, Low Labor: reinventing weeknight cooking, which is also available in ebook format. Now, go eat lunch!
Who has time for this?