"10th grade in South River High School and lunch in the cafeteria the Towne Spa was history by then. This was a very cool thing. The people in this town were overwhelmingly eastern European immigrants. So the food in the caf was prepared daily by Russian, Ukrainian, Czech and Polish women. It was usually dishes from cultures I'd never been exposed to before. Real mashed potatoes with fried onions and sour cream. Chicken in a red (paprika) sauce over gossamer egg noodles. Pierogi made that morning, sometimes fruit-filled for a dessert. The most amazing dark, chewy rye breads.
"11th and 12th in St Peter's High School. Essentially Irish catholic administration so the food wasn't supposed to be very interesting. They succeeded. The cafeteria *smelled* bad. We usually left the school grounds to buy lunch in one of the many different ethnic restaurants nearby. Actual Italians who made pizzas and giant subs. Real Germans with wursts and kraut. Kartoffelsalat still warm and bacony-rich. Chinese. Hungarian. Jewish deli. The George Washington Lunch (owned by the Parlipanides brothers) with the biggest, bestest burgers, lettuce, tomato, mayo and fried onion on a home made roll with fries.
"And since I was one of the rich kids (I worked in the L&L Beef Company that was for Louie and Lena as the guy who carried stuff, washed stuff, stocked the shelves with stuff and like that.) I could afford to buy lunch. Big stuff. In college, not many people carried lunchpails. Can't imagine why."