Lunch

Twitter Is Aghast at This Food Stylist's Tips for a Not Sad Desk Lunch

September 18, 2017

Twitter’s been having a real field day over this article published in The Independent last week, spotlighting the philosophy of food stylist Dominique Eloise Alexander. She’s the author of Jar Food: Recipes For On-The-Go, out this November.

"How to Make Your Packed Lunch Look and Taste Amazing, According to a Food Stylist," the article's title teases. Alexander advocates for sprucing up your sad desk lunches by forgoing the Tupperware and sticking them in jars.

She transforms the most prosaic of meals into jars of wonder: A Spanish frittata buried beneath a bed of nondescript greens becomes a layered “tapas jar.” A ham and cheese sandwich with an apple and bag of chips? Truly classic. Enliven that staid staple by making it into a “Proper Ploughman’s” lunch with vegetable focaccia, mozzarella di bufala, parma ham, spinach, slices of apples, and a drizzle of chips stacked atop one another.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I'm a little bit embarassed to admit that I'm a mason-jar-lunch girl. I do a whole week's worth of meal prep on Sunday (usually soup or salad), and then I can just grab a jar on my way out the door. I prefer using glass storage containers over plastic, and a week's worth of mason jars was much cheaper than a week's worth of the fancy glass tupperwares! I do feel a little bit "basic" when I keep them in the work fridge, but it does the job :) ”
— aesunshine
Comment

“We have to admit, we were pretty impressed with her creations,” writes The Independent’s Rachel Hosie. I’m afraid Twitter was not.

Too bad! Alexander’s method is quite the fanciful take on the Not Sad Desk Lunch movement, married to the desire to stick just about anything in a mason jar. I fear that Twitter isn't giving her enough credit. The appeal of putting your lunch in a jar isn't simply cosmetic, she argues; doing so creates a watertight seal that prevents food from dripping into the crevices of your dear bag.

If you extract some Not Sad Desk Lunch inspiration from Alexander's suggestions, be my guest, though some dishes may be more conducive to jars than others—a jar salad, for example, that you can pick at with your fork. A sandwich may be a step too far.

Do you put your lunch in a mason jar? How do you make your desk lunches not sad? Let us know in the comments.

19 Comments

fitzie August 20, 2018
If anyone ever gave me lunch in a Mason jar, I don't know what I'd do with it.
 
kschurms September 22, 2017
Also with twitter here. Why does my sandwich need to look cute? IMO, sad desk lunches are sad because they taste bad. Who cares if my sandwich looks cute, as long as it tastes good. <br /><br />ALSO there is no danger of a sandwich spilling or creating a mess in my bag, so why is putting it in a jar better?
 
PHIL September 22, 2017
and a sandwich can look good without it being in a jar
 
Monica B. September 22, 2017
Glasslock tupperware. Problem solved. <br />I am with Twitter. If I tried to eat at my desk from a mason jar, I would splooge all over my keyboard.
 
MTrue September 22, 2017
Thank you for a hilarious post. A sandwich is meant to be held in your two hands, or, if it's very juicy or cloaked in melted cheese, eaten with a knife and fork. Sandwich in a mason jar! That's gone right off the edge. Love the reminder about verrines, too--thanks, Jane!
 
Laurie F. September 21, 2017
Great post and thanks for the chuckle! The twitter photo of the onions and eggs in a glass was hilarious!! I do occasionally take things in a jar but do like to use plastic ziploc containers, as well. Yes, they do leak and I put them in a plastic bag.
 
janelear September 21, 2017
Layering elements of a dish in a clear glass jar is nothing new. It's what is called a verrine, a term coined by the Paris patissier Philippe Conticini in 1994. When he headed up the kitchen at Petrossian in Paris a few years later, he served individual courses throughout entire meals the same way, complete with long-handled flatware with which to savor each bite. "The flavors are like neighbors in a small community," he told the NY Times. "They bump into one another and they are concentrated." The concept has been slow to catch on in the U.S., although after sampling a number of verrines in Paris, the food editors at Gourmet were inspired to publish a recipe for the components of a Greek salad layered in a jam jar (August 2008). It was very simple, very clean-tasting, and a terrific reminder of flavors that go together. You'll find a bit more on the topic in my entry on verrines that appears in The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (2015).
 
janelear September 21, 2017
Layering elements of a dish in a clear glass jar is nothing new. It's what is called a verrine, a term coined by the Paris patissier Philippe Conticini in 1994. When he headed up the kitchen at Petrossian in Paris a few years later, he served individual courses throughout entire meals the same way, complete with long-handled flatware with which to savor each bite. "The flavors are like neighbors in a small community," he told the NY Times. "They bump into one another and they are concentrated." The concept has been slow to catch on in the U.S., although after sampling a number of verrines in Paris, the food editors at Gourmet were inspired to publish a recipe for the components of a Greek salad layered in a jam jar (August 2008). It was very simple, very clean-tasting, and a terrific reminder of flavors that go together. You'll find a bit more on the topic in my entry on verrines that appears in The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (2015).
 
Nan S. September 21, 2017
The jars are fun, imaginative, colorful and definitely not the ubiquitous plastic.<br />Nan
 
PHIL September 21, 2017
I don't like eating out of a deep container. Do you dump it out first? It's difficult to fish out the food . Awkward to eat soup that way. Why can't it be in a shallow glass bowl? Lastly, it doesn't even look that cool anyway.
 
aesunshine September 19, 2017
I'm a little bit embarassed to admit that I'm a mason-jar-lunch girl. I do a whole week's worth of meal prep on Sunday (usually soup or salad), and then I can just grab a jar on my way out the door. I prefer using glass storage containers over plastic, and a week's worth of mason jars was much cheaper than a week's worth of the fancy glass tupperwares! I do feel a little bit "basic" when I keep them in the work fridge, but it does the job :)
 
Jonina L. September 19, 2017
haha! Totally agree....ridiculousness. Food bloggers are incredibly unrealistic sometimes. Another thing that I find just show how out of touch some blogs or people for that matter can be is all of this open shelving business in a kitchen. This is not what peoples kitchens looks like....too much dust, not utilizing space...etc etc.
 
Mary C. September 19, 2017
I agree that food bloggers are unrealistic sometimes. I'm seriously thinking about reworking my blog around ugly food. Ugly produce, bruised apples, cracked cakes, burned edges...because it's tasty. And realistic. I think some food blogging is doing to food what the fashion industry did to body image. Off of soapbox. The perfection is starting to drive me a little crazy!
 
Michele September 21, 2017
THIS! yes. Please do this!
 
mizerychik September 21, 2017
An ugly food blog sounds delightful. I have one of those all edges pans that I use for damn near everything baked, because the slightly burned edges of both sweet and savory items are my favorite. Ugly produce is as tasty as things that look perfect. I got two carrots from my CSA that grew intertwined and gnarly, and they were delicious.
 
MTrue September 22, 2017
SO much food that we used to think of as perfectly acceptable is now deemed unsightly...check out Julia Child's "The Way to Cook." Through today's Instagram lens, it's a horror show.<br />
 
BerryBaby September 19, 2017
Never in all my years of bringing my lunch to work did I have an issue with leaking.<br />Salads went in plastic bags, salad dressing, in office fridge. I kept a great placemat and one set of utensils in my desk drawer.<br />Served my salad on a plate, not a bowl. Presentation makes all the difference and it was my time to relax and enjoy.
 
Mary C. September 19, 2017
This is hysterical! And I can't help but wonder if we've lost our damn minds when it comes to some food trends/styling! I do use mason jars because like HalfPint, I don't like reheating in plastic. I like them for salads, too. Food always makes me happy, even if it's eating a PB and J in my sad cubicle. It's the little things.
 
HalfPint September 18, 2017
I have on occasion put my lunch in a mason jar. Anything that needed reheating since I hate reheating in plastic. Like soup, stews. I put salads in mason jars. But I stop at things like sandwiches (anything with bread). There's no added value with that type of food, though technically you could if you ran out of other types of food packaging and containers.