Tuesday, February 7, 2012
School lunches, regardless of which worldly coordinates are used to pin your lunch table and plastic chair, are something that most can smile, shake their head and sigh about as they say 'oohh...school lunch...'. Korea is no different. While I am not a picky eater and complain about very little (just glad to have a lunch!) there is humor to be found in the meal that I eat five times out of every week. Many expat teachers do, in fact, love to complain about their school's lunch and vent about it's lack of appeal in both the atheistic world as well as the mmmmm-this-is-good world. I, on the other hand, am perfectly content with eating kimchi and rice everyday for lunch (and actually crave it if I don't eat it for more than 2 days) so everything else that I get for lunch is like a bonus! yaaayy! Bonuses!
The lunches in Korea don't have options like the lunches in America do. I remember choosing everyday between chef salad, pizza, submarine sandwich, or the main course that was being served that day--and that was in elementary school. When I got to middle school and high school the choices were even greater. (man, I could really go for a Little Debbie right now...) This is not the case in Korea. The lunches are served on a cart that is wheeled to each individual classroom. This is the system of my elementary school that I was at last year and my middle school that I'm at this year. Some schools do have a cafeteria where the students walk through the line and are served but from what I've gathered, that's not too common. So each day the lunch ladies (I'll come back and correct this is I ever hear about a single male cooking lunches for schools.) prepare lunches that are practically freshly made right in the school. They put the meals on a large metal cart that they roll out in front of each classroom. Just so you have an idea of how much work this is, I'll throw out some numbers for you.
elementary school: 6 grades. each grade has about 7 classes. plus one for the teacher's room = 43 metal carts rolled out to 43 different locations.
middle school: 3 grades. each grade has about 13 classes. plus one for the teachers room = 39 individual carts rolled out to 39 individual locations.
high school: write lacks enough knowledge to say
THAT'S A WHOOOLE LOTTA RICE TO BE COOKIN'!
A typical lunch includes: rice (everyday), soup (everyday), kimchi (everyday) a fruit (most days not all the time), another vegetable (sometimes not all the time) and "main" dish. I use " " because it is the dish that changes on a daily basis but there's nothing main about it because it is meant to be eaten as a very small serving. No beverage is served with lunch but there are mini water cups available if I'd like to have a shot of water after my meal. The two pictures I've taken show two lunches; the latter of the two is more common--spaghetti happens once in a blue moon and it's kimchi spaghetti at that.
Although many complain about the school lunches, I'm just happy to have a lunch and have my daily craving for rice and kimchi satisfied.