Amanda & Merrill

Lunch is a Sandwich Today, End of Story

January 17, 2013

Every week we take a peek inside the lunches of the luckiest kids in Brooklyn. Read on, suppress your jealousy, and get a little brown bag inspiration. 

Lunch today is tuna and smoked mackerel sandwiches packed with celery, radishes, pickled ramps, parsley, lemon, and mayonnaise. I made smoked mackerel salad for my kids a week or so ago and it didn't go over that well (they like smoked salmon which I assumed was a gateway smoked fish to mackerel -- wrong!) so I thought I'd soften it with tuna. I also strategically gave them no other choices. Lunch is a sandwich today, end of story. It worked! For dessert, Tumbador's "dulce de chile" milk chocolate bar with cascabel chile and toffee rice crisps.

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Looking more inspiration? Click here to see some of the twins' past lunches, and here for a few more brown bag options.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jean Beck
    Jean Beck
  • Literary Equivalent
    Literary Equivalent
  • ATG117
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.


Jean B. January 17, 2013
A chef friend told us when he was a kid his friends never wanted to exchange their lunch for his. Seems no one else was interested in the tongue sandwiches his mom packed for him...
Literary E. January 17, 2013
How old are your kidlets? My 2-year-old liked tuna fish when he was about 1, but is now kind of turned off by it. He does like spicy food though, thank goodness, and his finicks rotate.
Literary E. January 17, 2013
Also, wow, yum. I am betting the ramps were the hardest bit to sell?
Amanda H. January 17, 2013
They're 6!
ATG117 January 17, 2013
I'm all for no kids food and I adore this column, but sometimes feel torn and wonder how you go about balancing your values with your kids true preferences while weighing the fact that sometimes kids do just want to eat what other kids are eating. I wouldn't get behind allowing kids to eat unhealthy foods just because others do, but sometimes I think there may be a middle ground at least as far as school lunches go. Meals at home seem to me to be a different story.

I also wish I had someone to portion out chocolate for me this way!
Amanda H. January 17, 2013
I hear you. Our kids certainly get their share of ham and cheese sandwiches and cookies and potato chips, but I'm wary (and resistant to) what I call the Lowest Common Denominator Phenomenon -- which is when one kid says he won't eat pepperoni so all the kids are forced to have plain pizza. This happens all the time -- and everyone is pressured into conforming to the diet of the least adventurous eater in the group. Which isn't what sharing and community are about. At every party my kids go to, they're fed plain pizza or pasta with butter. I'm opposed!
AntoniaJames January 17, 2013
Maybe someone could respectfully suggest to those parents that they get one small plain pizza and interesting other pizzas for everyone else . . . . or better yet, buy some half-baked plain ones and then offer a variety of toppings, to let the guests make their own. And how hard is it to offer some alternate, interesting toppings for pasta? (Or one small pot of plain with butter, and something more adventurous for the others.) Most kids love pesto, sun dried tomatoes, etc. One of my sons went to a party once when he was about that age, where the food seemed a bit uninteresting, so he asked the hostess if he could look in her pantry and cheese drawer to see what she might have on hand to perk it up . . . ;o)
ATG117 January 18, 2013
Thanks for responding, Amanda. Your theory of the Lowest Common Denominator Phenomenon is perfectly articulated. I had wondered whether this "phenomenon" had subsided to some degree since, as a society, it seems we have come pretty far with regards to embracing more adventurous food. I suppose it has not. I have not had to face this challenge yet with children of my own. I suppose if more parents got behind your resistance, we might have a win-win solution.
Shana C. January 19, 2013
Agreed Amanda! I'm new to your site, but instantly obsessed! It's amazing! I grew up always eating "weird" food--my mother is the founder of The Natural Gourmet Institute in Chelsea and she never paid attention to what the other kids were being fed. At home I ate greens with garlic and at my best friend's house Oscar Meyer bologna on Wonder--so I got my fair share. Now I have two kids and I make spaghetti, but my son will eat smoked oysters out in olive oil right from the can and my daughter will eat a quinoa burger for breakfast with a side of fermented veggies. She wouldn't go near the oysters though--they do come out with their own tastes! So happy to have come across your site!
Amanda H. January 19, 2013
Shana, great to meet you, and a funny story. We know lots of people who have graduated from The Natural Gourmet Institute.
Shana C. January 19, 2013
I'm not surprised! Looking forward to learning more from Food52.
Waverly January 24, 2013
The sandwiches look great, and I am always amazed by what your children eat (pickled ramps). I agree wholeheartedly with your lowest common denominator theory, but I will say, in defense of those "other" mothers, that most of them do the best they can...usually.
Kitchen B. January 17, 2013
I wish the 'no-option' thing would succeed with one of my children - my second daughter but it NEVER does!

You've done it right Amanda, and the sarnies don't look half bad

They must be the kids with the most interesting lunchboxes
Amanda H. January 17, 2013
Thank you, Kitchen Butterfly.