Divided Container #1

Some improvisational chickpea salad made with Violife feta, homemade baba ganoush (recipe at Cookie + Kate), and some "everything" flavored flatbread crackers.

I have had this divided container longer than literally any other lunch container I have used on this blog (or in life), and yet you've never seen it. Usually, it's just not quite right for any of the things I want to pack, or so I tell myself. It might also be the mental associations that come up when I use it.

I have memories of taking this container to lunch every day at a terrible job I had for about four months during my first foray into graduate school (the second of my four degrees--why, oh why, did I go to school for so long--so this was circa 2005, well before Food for Dissertating). I was impoverished and ate very little and had a really short time to eat (usually less than 15 minutes). I didn't even buy the container; I think it was something I took from someone who moved out of my dorm and was giving it away. At one point the owner of the store where I was working gave me a $10 bill and told me to go down the street for a sandwich, chips, and a milkshake and to eat the whole thing, even if it took an hour. Life was hard, and I guess sometimes people noticed, though in retrospect that wasn't that kind of a gesture on the part of the store owner, who could have just given me a raise instead. That ten dollars was more than I made in an hour.

Back then this container usually held the cheapest of foods I could make in a dorm room--peanut butter sandwiches on white bread, bananas, eggs boiled in a coffee pot (I wasn't vegan then; I also couldn't afford a campus meal plan). The store owner also recommended I try mayo sandwiches (just mayo and bread), because they were extra filling. I did not, at that age, have the sense that I have now that the kind of exploitation I was under--a temporary job, paying very little, where I was told each Friday whether the job still existed on Monday, and where I parked far away so I didn't have to put anything in a parking meter, and walked significant distances every day on very little fuel--isn't the kind of thing anyone should have to endure or make work. Someone living a comfortable life on the backs of underpaid staff while trying to assuage his conscience by giving me an occasional "treat" rather than a decent wage doesn't sit so well with me these days, and it seems to all come back when I use this lunch box. But back then I was grateful. I would still be grateful for what I had, but I think I might be less grateful to the shop owner and more to other beings involved in my sustenance, should this situation repeat itself.

I'm not sure why I kept the container if I wasn't using it. Having lunch in it again after such a long time clearly brings back memories of a time when I was struggling profoundly. But here we are now, and I'm living a radically different life and eating radically different food. And baba ganoush is always, always, always a good idea.


  1. This box clearly has a long history, even if it is out first introduction to it. I can understand being wary of using something because of associations.

    1. It wasn't until I wrote this blog post that I remembered what about this box made me avoid it. It may be time to let it go to charity.

  2. Simple items can bring back powerful memories so easily; I am glad that things have changed for you <3
    And I really should try making baba ganoush sometime!


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