I once read that Albert Einstein famously, and, it has to be said, rather cleverly, solved the problem of what he should wear every day by buying 7 identical sets of clothes.
Just over a year ago, I began to work for a company stuck out in the middle of an industrial estate with all the charm and facilities of a post-apocalyptic tundra.
The choices available as far as lunch options were concerned were limited to an insipid mobile catering hut dishing up gristleburgers, or a delivery “chuck wagon” that seemed to specialize in chemically impregnated baked glue. I reasoned that my best option in order to avoid food poisoning and chronic hunger should be a home-produced packed lunch.
To streamline the food procurement procedure, I made the early decision, inspired by Albert E’s great example, to standardize the contents of my lunch box. This lunch quickly acquired the name of Einstein Salad, as both a nod to the great man’s planning skills, as well as a reference to the abilities of oily fish to boost brain power, which was much needed during a long day’s mental wrestling with the fiendishly complex ins and outs of fleet administration.
After a few weeks of experimentation, my routine quickly settled down into one that I followed right up until my last day. Before leaving home every morning, I would prepare some vegetables, which I would then cut, chop, and slice at the last minute at my desk, and then supplement with a tin of fish, as well as a select blend of spices, either the Indian mixture known as chaat masala, or one of my own, Golding’s Gunpowder (see below). I transported the spice to the workplace in a small, lightweight, plastic container that once held curry powder, and easily slipped into an inside pocket in my rucksack.
The lunch box itself doubled up as both a mixing and a serving bowl, with the lid also finding a second use as my chopping board. I bought a short bladed, short handled, extremely sharp vegetable knife for the finishing off that fit perfectly into the lunch box. A 3/4 sized fork was found from a cheap afternoon tea cake service set that also worked well with the limited space available. With the addition of a teaspoon, this made for a light, compact away kit.
- ½ a red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red, green, or yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes, quartered
- 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, halved lengthways, and then thinly sliced
- 1 nice big, hot, chilli, thinly sliced
- 1/3 of a cucumber, halved lengthways, and then thinly sliced
- 1 tin mackerel or sardines in brine
For Golding’s Gunpowder
- Mix ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot Spanish smoked paprika in the ratio of 2:1:1
- Before leaving for work in the morning, quarter the pepper, and peel the carrot. All other preparation will be done last minute.
- At lunch time, finish preparing the vegetables, and mix well in your lunch box. Season to taste with either chaat masala or Golding’s Gunpowder.
- Flake the fish of choice into the vegetables. Mix well. Eat, as your instant noodle and cream cake loving colleagues look on with a mixture of horror and disgust all too apparent on their faces.