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lunch boxLove Your Lunchbox: 101 recipes to liven up your lunchtime
James Ramsden

Do you love your lunchbox? I don’t.  It usually contains a squashed cheese sandwich and a satsuma.

Thanks to James Ramsden, all that is about to change.  I have no idea who he is, but hopefully James is about to transform my lunch breaks. I’ve so far tried the Jambalaya recipe, which was so delicious that I ate all of it and forgot to save any for tomorrow.

Lunchtimes at work in the UK are very dull affairs; in France they seem to go in for three course meals which last for two hours and even include wine.  Here, some people just eat their sandwiches at their desk and don’t even bother to stop working.

Where I currently work, “Kevin”, the head of accounts, brings all sorts of exotic things in tupperware boxes, that have been lovingly prepared for him by his girlfriend (today it was Sri Lankan chicken soup).  Our office is next to the kitchen and the only things we complain about are Kevin’s fish curries, which stink the place out.  Otherwise, we’re extremely envious.

There is little communal spirit, however.  We don’t share food.  We don’t even always talk to each other.  Some people would rather play Candy Crush Saga or read a book while they munch.

This is in extreme contrast to other countries I’ve visited, where food is something which brings people together.  In Hong Kong, the Filipino maids congregate in the streets around Statue Square on Sundays and share food they’ve cooked themselves.  They all sit on the floor, eating and chatting and seem to be really enjoying themselves.  I was eating a venison pasty, in case you’re wondering, but couldn’t join in, as I don’t speak the language.

Anyway, I bought James Ramsden’s book hoping that it would bring something joyful back to my cooking, which has become a chore lately.  I have such a love/hate relationship with food, which is tied into my rollercoaster emotional life and therefore swings between Nigella style feasts, or days when all food tastes like dust and I can only be bothered to eat cheese and onion crisp sandwiches.  It’s not that I have a shortage of cookery books (about thirty the last time I looked) it’s just that sometimes it’s necessary to inject a little novelty.

Books I also recommend:

Saved by Cake, Marian Keyes
Feast, Nigella Lawson
anything by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, who’s my favourite TV chef.