To those unfamiliar with the absurdist theater of school lunch, it is puzzling, even maddening, that feeding kids nutritious food should be so hard. You buy good food. You cook it. You serve it to hungry kids.Yet the National School Lunch Program, an $11.7 billion behemoth that feeds more than 31 million children each day, is a mess, and has been for years. Conflicts of interest were built into the program. It was pushed through Congress after World War II with the support of military leaders who wanted to ensure that there would be enough healthy young men to fight the next war, and of farmers who were looking for a place to unload their surplus corn, milk and meat. The result was that schools became the dumping ground for the cheap calories our modern agricultural system was designed to overproduce.
Kathy Gunst, a radio journalist and the resident chef at NPR’s Here and Now, interviewed chef Jacques Pépin for the first time on the radio about ten years ago. She wanted to hear about what he had learned from his many decades in the kitchen. What he said surprised her. Because what he described did not have to do with flavor combinations or ingredient sourcing. It had to do with sound.Pépin told her he could walk into a kitchen where a young cook was searing a steak and immediately tell if the steak was going to be overcooked. Not by looking. Just by the quality of the sound.
Despite that phrase about the soft rains of April, here in Singapore in June there is no end in sight. I’m not so sure that there is such a thing as soft rain in SE Asia. At least Singapore is a great place to eat yourself silly. This is a task that I relish.
Staying with a friend in the Novena area has been great. There is VeloCity, Novena Square, United Square, and the MRT within a few minutes walk.