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School lunches staying fresh


There is a lot of paranoia out there about keeping food refrigerated until
the minute before it is cooked or served. Your daughter's school lunch,
which I presume contains no flesh or milk, will stay perfectly fresh for the
several hours until she eats it, unless you pack her plain tofu (somehow, I
don't think so).

If you are serving her hummos-stuffed pitas, or veggie sandwiches, or some
bean dish, remember that these foods came from very hot countries long
before refrigeration was invented. These foods were designed to be prepared,
stored and eaten at a temperature considerably warmer than what we call
'room temp.' Think of fruit and veggie markets - the produce sits on the
tables, often in the sun and certainly without any refrigeration. If you've
ever eaten a sun-warmed tomato, you can appreciate the intensity of the
flavor that it has. If you've ever tried refrigerated hummos, OTOH, I'm sure
you'll agree that it's downright unpleasant, compared to that served at room

Even if your daughter leaves her lunch box on a sunny windowsill or on a
radiator, the food inside will be perfectly OK to eat, and I'll bet she'll
enjoy it much more than something that just came off an ice pack. Even
cheese is OK to leave unrefrigerated for a day - in European cheese shops,
it never sees a fridge.

So don't worry - she's more likely to pick up germs by not washing her hands
after going to the bathroom than by eating unrefrigerated veg. food.

Alla Linetsky