high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Monday, October 10, 2011

If you need something to read while surfing the web during lunch at work...

Untapped market: Edible brown paper lunch bags
Being a planful, health-conscious, and generally tight-wadded individual who places a lot of emphasis on what I'll be consuming throughout each day for purposes of replenishing my calorie stores, it comes as no surprise that I am very purposeful about grocery shopping.  A lot of thought goes into the weekly grocery list to ensure that the items I buy will be appropriate for comprising both dinners each evening and lunches each day at work in the week to come, all at the best price.  A balance must be struck between food that tastes good and food that is good for you, meals that are standbys and meals that stretch your culinary repertoire, ingredients that are merely marketed as high quality and ingredients that truly make a difference in the cooking.

While planning and cooking dinners is a genuinely enjoyable activity, planning and preparing lunches is more of a task.  You can't host people for lunch at work, and although there is some ability to put some simple ingredients together at your desk, you can't truly cook anything in the office.  There is little enjoyment to be found in placing items in tupperware containers and carrying them to work with you, especially when you know that you'll likely be having the same thing the next day.

The exception to this rule is leftovers.  Leftovers are like a refreshing redux on the previous night's dinner-making enjoyment.  Obviously you aren't preparing the meal all over again, but in eating the leftovers at work you are reminded of the enjoyment that went into the initial preparation.  Leftovers are the perfect lunch because you don't need to spend any extra time preparing something in the morning and they break up the monotony of the "daily salad," so to speak.

However, leftovers are not always available, and thus it was that this morning I found myself in the kitchen putting together my lunch before departing for work.  There were some chopped up vegetables to use, along with a serving of black beans and an apple.  But then my eyes alighted on an unassuming avocado standing by, and inspiration took me in its grasp.  What better to go with some chopped vegetables than a black bean and avocado dip?  A pinch of salt, a squirt of lime juice, and suddenly Monday's lunch was looking much more promising.  The dip was spooned into a plastic container, placed in a bag, and off I went, almost happy enough to whistle a tune made popular by a clan of animated dwarves, but not quite.

The day whiled away, and the tasks at hand blotted out thoughts of all else, as can happen at times at work.  But around 1:00 my attention was drawn away from the emails and papers, not because of the usual midday pangs of hunger, but because of a most unusual essence that was suddenly noticeable in my cubicle.  My head rose from my work, I focused my senses, and I sniffed the air.  Yes, I thought to myself, that foul smell is here in my cubicle.

Avocados are a wonderful item of produce.  They are the perfect burrito filling or chip dip, are stellar as a sandwich topping, and are particularly delightful sliced on top of an omelette.  However, the avocado is a fickle food, and must be handled like the prima donna that it is.  You can't use it too soon, or it will be too hard.  Let it ripen a couple days too long and you'll find it overly mushy.  Expose it to the air for too long after cutting it open and it will lose its fresh flavor.  These are all things that I knew - I knew - before putting my lunch together, and yet I still thought it might work to make my creative and non-traditional avocado dip for lunch.  Foolish, foolish, foolish.

High maintenance bitch
To say that my avocado dip did not stay entirely fresh and delicious despite being sealed in its plastic container would be accurate, if not a gross understatement.  Basically, an avocado should be used as soon as you cut it open, not allowed to fester for six hours.  So now the question was "what to do with the dip" now that it had decided to become unpleasant.  In keeping with the pattern of prior posts, let's do this in list format...

  • Option 1 - Consume the avocado dip.  They say that taste is mostly the result of smell, so even though I did not confirm that the dip had actually become poisonous, this option was ruled out quickly.  Thrift be damned, I was willing to spend a few bucks to buy myself a lunch to replace the ill-fated avocado.
  • Option 2 - Foist the avocado dip onto someone else.  There is such a thing as stinky cheese in France that is beyond abhorrent, so it was not entirely implausible that I could talk up my avocado dip as a delicacy and serve it to some unsuspecting person in the office.  Unfortunately, at least for my purposes on this day, there is nobody with whom I work that warrants such cruelty.  Furthermore, the person could easily get revenge by coming to my cubicle when the need to vomit suddenly hit them. 
  • Option 3 - Subtly dispose of the avocado dip.  This seems like the obvious choice, but not so fast.  For one thing, taking the nastiness to the trash can in the kitchenette would not simply transfer the smell to the kitchenette, it would actually compound it because the dip would be released from its plastic container into the open air.  And while spoiling the appetite of anyone who may have been preparing their own food in the kitchenette over the remainder of the day was only a secondary consideration, I could not risk the very real possibility that someone would see me dumping the terrible green substance, thus tarnishing my reputation in their eyes forever.  
  • Option 4 - Wait it out and hope for the best.  This was kind of like the siege warfare approach to dealing with the avocado dip.  The smell was definitely there, but it was contained for the most part.  And while I don't have a convenient rear view mirror from which to hang a nice air freshener in my cubicle, the smell of the dip was not so strong that it was driving me from the area.  Give it a few hours and I could safely leave work to dispose of the failed lunch in an acceptable manner.
Untapped market: Cubicle rear-view mirrors
If you couldn't tell from the preceding commentary, option 4 was the winner in this little internal debate.  However, a short time before leaving for the day, my game plan sort of backfired when a coworker stopped by my cubicle to discuss an item of business.  No comments were made, but suddenly the smell was very apparent to me.  To make matters worse, this was a female coworker, and I found the well-known fact about the female olfactory system running across my mind like a repeating Times Square electronic bulletin in red letters: "Females have a more developed sense of smell than males!  Females have a more developed sense of smell than males!  Females have a more developed sense of smell than males!"  This meant, of course, that whatever I could smell was twice as bad for her, and my focus became solely on cutting off the conversation and getting her out of there.  Answers to questions were blunt one-word responses.  Jokes were met with short, nervous laughter.  I stood, and actually edged sideways in front of the plastic container sitting on my side table, absurdly thinking that I could in some way block the smell by standing in front of it.  At long last my coworker departed, no doubt thinking that not only did I need to power wash my rancid cubicle, but also that she would need to bring some mace the next time she stopped by for a chat in case my odd behavior blossomed into outright hostility.

So friends, the moral of this story is that when trying to "jazz up" your weekly packed lunches, make sure that the lunch can at least last to midday.  And when someone pops in asking if you want to try the awesome dip they made last night, tell them you want to see them try it first. 

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