Working For Your Lunch
The ever-prescient Londonist recently pointed out the average cost of a working Londoner’s lunch; a conservatively-estimated £830 p.a. And if you factor in visits to Pret A Manger you can add a few more hundred quid to that bill. Then you’ve got the choice of dining ‘al desko’ or trying to find a free square of grass (or more likely, pavement) to eat it on.
In King’s Cross, where more and more workers are arriving in their new office quarters each day, a new park has materialised but it’s already obvious that it’s far too small for the area’s workers, who’ll either use canteens or the ‘public-private’ spaces around town that have headset-monkeys on constant patrol. Most shop-bought lunches are too poorly designed to be eaten easily in public anyway. If you’ve ever had a salad blow away in a London park, you’ll know the pitfalls.
Bringing food from home has a working class connotation in the UK. Yorkshire workers once brought ‘snap-tins’, tins with lids that sprang shut, and lunch became generically known as your ‘snap’. In the far South, the folded crust of the Cornish pasty allowed it to be held in one hand to make for easy eating. Therefore, manual labour and packed lunches went hand in hand.
I was surprised, then, when I went shopping in a Spanish department store, and found an entire section dedicated to the art of taking food to work. There were hundreds of elegant leather bags to choose from, with cooling pouches, trays, cups, sauce containers, condiments and foldaway cutlery. Suddenly, making your own lunch seemed like a really stylish status symbol-type-thing rather than a vaguely embarrassing experience suggesting you were a bit hard up.
Perhaps we’ll see the arrival of the middle-class homemade lunch?