Page A4 / The Joan
De Arc Crusader / Saturday, December 24, 2022
Editorials A2 /
Sahuaro School A3 /
The top five
all-time Sahuaro cafeteria lunches
By J. Bueker
I had the
yummy privilege of dining in the Sahuaro School cafeteria for eight
decidedly delicious years, enjoying every single lunchtime bite (well nearly
every one). I was genuinely bewildered by those poor misguided classmates of
mine who insisted on either bringing a greasy brown sack to school or
dashing off to dine at home, when for a mere 30 cents plus five cents for a
carton of milk, we could all enjoy consistently well-prepared and tasty food
made on site, usually from scratch. Lunchtime in the cafeteria was nothing
less than one of the supreme delights of attendance at Sahuaro School, and
over the course of those eight years, I came to identify the very best of
the fare offered therein:
5. Sloppy Joe
with Tater Tots
A Sahuaro cafeteria joke in vogue in the 1960s held that the term
“Sloppy Joe” was an unacceptably crude appellation for this perennially
popular bun-based repast, which should more properly be known as the “Untidy
Joseph.” Well, the Josephs at Sahuaro were usually pretty outstanding and
typically served up with french fries, or if we were exceptionally
fortunate, the excellent Sahuaro cafeteria tater tots. Students who
typically brought their food to school or went home for lunch were known to
abandon their routine and enter the cafeteria line on Sloppy Joe days. There
is little doubt that Mr. Dirty arrived on the playground for lunch recess on
those days with a few well-earned orangish-red stains adorning his shirt.
4. Pizza Sandwich
Universally beloved by kids, proper pizza was never a practical food
item to prepare in the 1960s school cafeteria setting. Yet in the absence of
a pizza oven, the Sahuaro cafeteria staff somehow managed to contrive this
surprisingly pleasing substitute for the popular pie. Fashioned on a single
piece of thick cafeteria bread (so technically an open-faced sandwich I
suppose), this nod to classic Italian fare was topped by a simple mildly
spicy meat sauce dabbed with sprinkles of shredded cheese and then baked.
Sounds kinda gross, right? The fact that these things were consistently
quite tasty was primarily attributable to the peerless bread products the
Sahuaro cafeteria was able to consistently produce, year in and year out.
3. Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Cheese
One of the great early Sahuaro School traditions was the annual PTA
spaghetti dinner, an event held in the cafeteria each spring for students,
staff, parents, families and anybody else in the neighborhood who happened
to wander in. The shindig was considered a major social occasion in the
Westown area and often so well attended that the PTA staff routinely ran out
of spaghetti before they did people seeking a steaming plateful. That very
same spaghetti dinner also found its way into the school cafeteria lunch
rotation of course, customarily accompanied by a tossed salad, fruit and the
cafeteria’s exemplary garlic toast. The moderately tangy meat sauce was
perfectly well seasoned with a generous portion ladled onto the more or less
al dente noodles. There was usually little need to visit the “seconds”
window after this filling meal.
2. Grilled Cheese Sandwich with
Vegetable Beef Soup
For me, the grilled
cheese sandwich with vegetable beef soup was the Sahuaro cafeteria’s
ultimate foray into comfort food, an exceptional combination that I still
endeavor to replicate at home from time to time. Mass production of quality
grilled cheese sammies is no mean feat, but it was the wondrous soup that
truly ascended this meal into the Sahuaro lunch pantheon. Generous chunks of
simmered beef mingled with assorted veggies like green beans, corn and peas
in a wonderfully salt-laden beef broth to produce a sublime lunchtime
experience that paired perfectly with the toasted cheese. Simply flawless.
1. Turkey in the Straw
This simple yet
savory turkey casserole concoction was an enduring favorite in the Sahuaro
cafeteria for many years and quite simply delectable. A masterful
composition of turkey, noodles, peas, carrots, and a creamy sauce, TIS was
typically served with sides of corn, cranberry sauce, and the legendary
Sahuaro cafeteria “homemade” roll with butter. A delightfully thin and
crunchy crust formed on the surface of the dish to complete its uniform
excellence, giving this timeless and sublimely delicious cafeteria dish the
top slot as the Sahuaro cafeteria’s all-time pinnacle menu item.
holiday treat: Grandma Garner’s sublime
My mother inherited a small but potent array of amazing old southern
recipes from her mother Lois and grandmother Garner, which included
scrumptious fried chicken and a world-class chicken and dumplings. The
surpeme delight however was their legendary Floating Island, an exquisite
dessert formulation that endured as an infrequent but magical holiday treat
on Joan De Arc Avenue.
essentially consists of clouds of poached meringue floating blissfully upon
a sea of a crème anglaise, a variety of vanilla custard, and is a dish that
appears to date back at least as far as mid-18th century England.
While the ingredient list for Grandma Garner’s version of Floating Island is
fairly concise and simple, the dish is notably challenging to properly
execute, requiring focused attention and practiced technique, particularly
with the custard preparation. I surmise that this complexity of execution
was a primary reason for the comparative infrequency of the dessert’s
appearances on Joan De Arc over the years.
yet Floating Island was incomparably popular at 3219. Very few foods of any
kind inspired the excitement and anticipation we felt at the prospect of
this fabled dessert treat gracing our dinner table. Eldest Bueker kid Sue
Bueker Nolan remembers, “We had Christmas Eve at Grandma Swaggerty's house
for many years. She adored Christmas, and always went all out to make it
exciting and festive. It was during these years we were first able to enjoy
this family favorite.” The recipe gradually passed on to the next generation
and so made its way to Joan De Arc: “Mother learned to make Floating Island,
so we had it often on Christmas Eve as well,” Sue said. “I learned to make
it too, and made it several times when my girls were little. None of my
grandchildren have ever seen or tasted Floating Island. I will have to dig
out the old punch bowl!”
A Christmas Eve
shout-out to Grandma Garner, Grandma Lois, and our mom Barbara for
preserving this ethereal ambrosia for ourselves and future generations to
cherish. Happy holidays.
Garner’s Floating Island
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
Heat 1-3/4 cups milk in saucepan, just to boiling point. Lower heat.
Meanwhile prepare meringue.
2. Spoon meringue on top of boiling milk and
heat until egg whites “set” (1/2 minute). Remove meringue to dish.
Combine egg yolks, sugar, salt and remaining milk. Add mixture to scalded
milk, stirring constantly. Cook until coating forms on spoon (3 or 4
minutes). Add vanilla flavoring.
4. Pour custard in dish with meringue
and chill. Nutmeg for garnish. 4 servings.
166 calories; protein 6.1g; carbohydrates 23.6g; fat 5.3g; cholesterol
118.3mg; sodium 234.7mg.
taken from the classic AdeA cookbook
Franklin Press, 1970.
Editorials A2 /
Sahuaro School A3 /