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Enough Sappiness

May 15, 2008

Enough with the sappiness. Only positive, non-emotional posts for a bit. (I know, I know, you’re welcome)

I’d like to talk about one of the unexpected bonuses of my job.

The food.

In Pittsburgh, my lunches were pretty simple.  Either I packed a gourmet meal for myself (typically yogurt with Special K) or, when I was feeling particularly generous, I allowed my mom to make me a proper lunch. When I felt like splurging, I’d buy soup from Au Bon Pain or a maybe a sandwich from Jimmy John’s. All in all, I was pretty pleased with the situation.

Until now.

I have seen and smelled things in our office which make a return to the days of sandwiches made entirely of lettuce and turkey seem impossible.

Yesterday’s lunch was lobster with pesto linguine and a side salad of fresh tomatoes and Belgian endive tossed in a balsalmic vinagairette. From the CAFETERIA.

It. Was. Delicious. The lobster was perfectly steamed and drizzled with a basil & garlic butter. The pasta was al dente. The pesto had just the right amount of pine nuts. The tomatoes were ripe.

As an added bonus – it only cost 10 Euros! (And, remember, we get 10 Euros a day as our ‘lunch allowance’ so basically it was free)

Now, don’t start hating me just yet. It gets better.

The consolation prize for working over 12 hour days is typically dinner. Granted, this is true of all of the offices – not just the Belgian ones. The catch is that not all offices are near Belgian restaurants. Back in Pittsburgh, we knew the Max & Erma’s hostess by name. Ditto for the delivery guys from ‘Wheel Deliver.’ Now, don’t get me wrong, all of these work-sponsored dinners were delicious. Black bean roll-ups & Tortilla Soup from Max & Erma’s? Yumm. Garlic Portabello pizza from Fuel & Fuddle? Amaaazing. Salmon Salad on a bed of fresh greens with strawberries and goat cheese from Atria’s? Tremendous.

But. There is something to be said for variety.

Here, the dinner is ordered from fantastic little Thai or Lebanese places, highly regarded French bistros and traditional Belgian restaurants that have been in business for over a hundred years. (come on, you have to admit it, that’s pretty cool)

PLUS. You know what’s REALLY great? I don’t have to do the ordering or picking up! We just give our orders to the Manager and he puts them into and they magically arrive in our lobby within an hour and a half.

Last night’s dinner was from one of the aforementioned well-established Belgian restaurants. Like every other meal I’ve had in this country, it was incredible. I had “Chèvre chaud au miel, ratatouille de tomates” with “Pommes croquettes maison.” (i.e. ‘goat cheese, honey, tomato ratatouille’ with ‘potato croquettes’) Is it just me, or do things taste better when they have French names?

Hate me yet? Hold off… it gets even worse.

Mondays and Wednesdays are official ‘Fruit Days.’ On these special mornings, boxes of fresh fruit arrive in our kitchen brimming with bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes, plums and a small amount of some special item that changes based on season and availability – figs, dried apricots, fresh raspberries, strawberries. Honestly, it’s the only thing that gets me up on Monday morning.

The only person higher up in my book than the wonderful Fruit Man is the “Koffiekoeken” Lady.  She sneaks into the office every Friday morning and bestows our floor with fresh pastries (or “Koffiekoeken”) from a local Patisserie. Chocolate croissants, raisin croissants, twirly something or others, many layered something elses. It’s my own personal heaven. My ever-stretching pants may not like it but I certainly do.

Ok. Go ahead and hate me now. 😀



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