In an attempt to save money, I avoid buying lunch when I am at work. To be perfectly honest, however, there are other more important reasons that I do not buy lunch at that time. One very important reason is that I am in Midtown, the land of salad bar mediocracy.
There is one place that I like, but it is expensive: Pret. For a while I used to get their coffee every morning, but since the machine coffee at my work is free, I can't justify great coffee to myself in the morning.
Being a snack-eater in an office by myself all day, I come to work with a load. The other day in one day I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my walk to the train right before eight. Then I got to work and ate a few nuts with my coffee. They were salty and roasted. Then at eleven I had chicken with blue potatoes. That was good. I also ate raw zucchini and cucumber with that. Then at about two I had pea soup and I know at some point I ate about two handfuls of blueberries. None of these things is terribly filling, but it's good because it breaks up the day and the food comes from a place I respect and trust, the Park Slope Coop.
Today, however, I was in a tough spot. I didn't bring enough food with me. I forgot to pack the soup. I did have two envelopes of oatmeal and sauteed spinach at work, but they were unappealing around the three o'clock slump. I thought of holding out until dinner, but all I had waiting for me was two weeks old kale and a block of tofu. I didn't even have rice or pasta to go with it.
I did what I do when my blood sugar is low and my thinking impaired: I took the elevator down to the expensive salad-sandwich joint at the bottom of my building. I've eaten lunch from them at least one day a week for one if not two weeks. It's dangerously close to becoming a habit and what really kills me about this is that I don't love eating their food. I hate spending money on crappy food, especially too much money!
As I let the elevator bring me closer to a regrettable decision, I thought of the good this would allow me to do. I had to run a bunch of errands after work. By eating this now I could post pone dinner. I wouldn't over shop at the coop because I would be full while I was there. By including grocery shopping in the errands I would avoid having to come back here later in the week. I knew I wasn't going to eat kale and tofu for dinner, so I had to go grocery shopping, hence this had to be a good thing to do...right?
I ended up getting a mexican inspired chicken wrap that was purportedly 'healthy,' at least it had avocado. I saw them put it in a big box that vaguely reminded me of a Chinese takeout box, without the wire though and then in a bag. Then, viciously, they told me I owed them $6.86. "I think I made a mistake" skipped in between my ears.
I trudged back to the elevator and wearily pressed number thirteen. I was up on my floor opening my door. Then I was at my desk unpacking my disappointment. Then I was biting into something. Something blah, predictable, wait. I felt something glide along the left side of my face the space that joins the inside of your mouth and your outer lip. I tugged on a black hair that had escorted its way into my mouth with the sandwich. The perfect ending to an absolutely unenjoyable experience. If you don't enjoy long black hairs in your sandwiches, then stay away from Food Merchants Cafe.
Food Merchants Cafe & Market
26 E 40th Street
New York, NY 10016