I recently asked my sons and their friends to name off their favorite school lunches, and they said chicken nuggets, walking tacos, spaghetti, corn dogs, and sloppy joes. These, of course, are the wrong answers. As anyone who has gone through the Grand Forks School System will tell you, the best school lunch is turkey tidbits in gravy.
Here is the recipe for turkey tidbits in gravy:
- 1 cup cooked turkey, casually cut into squares
- 2 cup heated brown gravy
- Combine ingredients.
Nowadays, elementary school lunch is basically a smorgasbord of the food pyramid. Students get to choose from the hot lunch, a sub, or a sun butter sandwich, and then supplement that with as many fruits and vegetables that they can shove in their gullets in thirty minutes. Back in my day [insert banjo plucking “ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding dong”], we got one lunch ticket each morning, and we traded that lunch ticket for whatever tray of food the lunch ladies had prepared. In terms of options, we got to choose between chocolate milk and regular milk (no one drank water, gross).
Back then, the lunch menu was posted in calendar form on the cafeteria door – so that I, and everyone, could memorize it while in line for lunch. As a person who does not like breakfast food, my least-favorite lunch was the pancakes and li’l smokies and so I made sure to burn those dates in my brain. I didn’t bring a sack lunch on pancake days, though – instead, threw a few extra snacks in my backpack and then traded my li’l smokies for extra chocolate milks because my mama didn’t raise no fool.
Obviously, the turkey tidbits in gravy were the gold-star days on the calendar. Often, someone would sneak a pencil into their pocket and mark the turkey tidbits in gravy days with a heart or a star so that all of us fellow kids could get amped up, like a delicious silent pep rally.
[A side note: My parents made up crazy names and songs for all sorts of things, and so I assumed that all silly-sounding words were their copyright. As a result, I once spent a VERY LONG lunch line trying to convince my classmates that my mother invented the word “tater tots.” Which, as the inventor of the tot will tell you, she did not.]
A lunchroom full of elementary students is basically a sound comparison to a jet engine or a heavy metal concert. A lunchroom full of elementary students is also a behavior comparison to a zoo exhibit full of cocaine-injected monkeys. The whole thing was such a cluster that my elementary school (rarely) gave out little certificates for good behavior – 4×6 pieces of paper with a child’s name on it – that would be put in a shoebox at the end of lunch for a drawing for…something that I can’t remember, maybe a pencil…every week. For ninety-percent of our lunch weeks, the same ten kids won the drawing. On the turkey tidbits in gravy days, though, every kid was so busy engorging themselves (and, as such, not crapping around) that the lunchroom monitors would sometimes run out of certificates.
Fast-forward 2,000 years and turkey tidbits in gravy are still being served in school. I know it because parents are allowed to come eat with their kids (in non-pandemic times), and word on the street is that those are the busiest days across the district for parent lunches.
I’m surprised that some of the local restaurants haven’t started to offer turkey tidbits in gravy, but I’m guessing it’s because we all like the watered-down, kid-friendly perfection of school food and wouldn’t be happy if it was translated into grown-up fare. Also, it really needs to be served on a tray, and even Ikea doesn’t have those anymore.
[Another side note: the second-most popular lunch at school was pizza in the shape of a rectangle, which a person – specifically, this person – would dip in ranch dressing. The school still has pizza but my son said it’s triangular, which tells me it’s probably less cardboard-y than the pizza of my youth and, therefore, less good.]
[Final side note: I told Kyle I was writing about turkey tidbits in gravy and he said “…Oh.” So I am anticipating that this may be the last time some of you will read this blog. Thank you for your friendship, I wish you all the best.]
You may be surprised to hear that I don’t have a photo of turkey tidbits in gravy to illustrate this story. Instead, I decided to go through my husband’s Facebook photos in search of a picture from Canadian Thanksgiving because it’s coming up and Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving (I should probably write something about that in the next couple of weeks). Anyways, I found this photo shoot that Kyle staged with our oldest son when he was a baby. I was looking at this nonsense – there’s seriously like 20 of these photos – and then scrolled down a bit and found another picture of me doing the same pose. I’m not sure what the matter is with all of us, but the photo above is of three turkeys.
This week’s news has yesterday’s farmers, painted haybales, and a year’s worth of toys. Read on.
Watford City’s Keith Edwards has written and illustrated a children’s book about owning your outlook. (McKenzie County Farmer)
Bowman brought out the best in the bee with a “Yesterday’s Farmers” event celebrating vintage ag. (Bowman County Pioneer)
Brooks Thiesen has been in and out of the hospital over his short 22 months, and so his family is hosting a Brews for Brooks fundraiser to support his diagnosis both financially and spiritually. (KVRR)
This year’s winners of the Maddock Rural Renaissance Festival’s hay bale decoration contest include a diner dinner, a circus extravaganza, and a high-flying act. (KX Net)
For the second year, The Schoolhouse in De Lamere was filled with people donating money to purchase toys for hospitalized children. (Wahpeton Daily News)