If you’re reading this, you may have read about my LIE of a childhood in which I ate Mamee Noodles like a sandwich. It seems like something you, dear reader, would also read if you’re here. Well, the Mamees were actually on my desk as part of a wider story I was working on – eating all my fave canteen food from primary school.
I LOVED canteen food. Like most of you I’m sure, I had parents who would disperse my lunch orders through the week, I now know on days they CBF making my fucking sandwiches. As a kid, I just thought they were being all parental and mean by withholding them. The c*nts.
When I WAS allowed a lunch order, or given some coins to spend at recess, it was the best goddamn day of my week. I am so nostalgic for canteen food, I honestly think about it once a month I reckon.
So given my job here is a literal joke, I decided my investigative piece for the week would be to track down all my canteen faves and eat them as a fully grown adult. Will they hold up to my refined tastebuds?
Quick note here to thank the beautiful boys at Single O, our local coffee shop (they’re damn good, check ’em out) for letting me come in and use the industrial oven for 30 minutes to cook my canteen treats. Hope you enjoyed the thick wafts of chicken oil, my friends.
Anyway, let’s deep dive huh.
1. Pizza Pockets
Christ on a BIKE did I love these things. I have revisited them before but made the grave error of shoving them in the oven (!!) to cook, which made them like weird, hard balls of death. In the microwave at work however, they cooked well – 1.5 minutes and I had a warm lil’ lump of pizza in my hand.
These are VERY hot. I needed to leave it for at least five full minutes before I could attempt a bite, so I want to know how I INHALED them as a kid. Maybe those reheating ovens in the canteen were at a chill level or something? I don’t know, but I’m shocked at 10-year-old me’s mouth.
Taste-wise, PRIMO. They taste like Pizza Hut, but in a nifty, afternoon-snack-acceptable bubble. The bread is a little stale but otherwise, a delicious canteen food treat.
2. Mamee Noodles
First – Mamees have gotten REAL small.
So there’s that. But taste-wise it’s all there – the BBQ flavouring, which I’m sure used to be full of MSG but is now NOT full of MSG tastes the same, the noodles are delicious… it’s all good.
Would I buy again? Probably not – I prefer my arvo snack to be a bit tastier and while these are GOOD, they’re a bit bland on my adult tastebuds.
3. Butter Menthols
What the FUCK were our schools doing with this shit. Why were Butter Menthols, essentially a LOZENGE FOR THE POORLY, readily available in the canteen like a lolly. And we did eat them like lollies, I vividly recall being excited to have $1.50 to buy a pack of these bad boys.
Anyway, revisiting these was like taking medicine when you’re well. HORRIBLE. They are disgusting. I feel like I manifested a sore throat by eating one. Don’t do it.
4. Eucalyptus Drops
Christ alive what were we thinking? I ate far too many of these, which are once again a LOZENGE, if a lozenge masquerading as an actual treat. These were only 50 cents at my canteen so I bought them quite often, with whatever sticky coins I could scrounge from the bottom of my backpack.
As expected, these were disgusting. The menthol is strong, eucalyptus is not a “treat”, and the ones I had were mixed with honey which did nothing to help the situation. Like a long slow death inside your mouth.
Nutritious and delicious? YES YOU WERE, you tiny ovals of malted heaven! Yes you were! *cute doggy voice* Who’s a good little choccy angel??
I’m so sorry. I got carried away. My point is, god I loved these – and god do they hold up as far as canteen food goes. The only criticism I have is that as an adult, they are maybe a bit TOO small. I want to shovel six in my mouth at a time to really immerse my tastebuds in the Ovaltine. But you know, a simple and easily achieved pleasure.
6. Chicken And Corn Roll
I’m going to hedge a few strong bets your memory of the chicken & corn roll was NOT grey matter pocked with a few corn kernels, was it.
That’s what we’re dealing with here folks. Grey processed meat. I’ll give the chicken & corn roll this – it’s got a crunchy crumb outer, and it’s a solid mass. This will fill you up as a lunch-time treat.
But as an adult the taste is just not holding up and CHRIST ALIVE THE CHICKEN IS GREY. FUCKING GREY.
7. Sweet Chilli Chicken Tenders
I used to take two of these bad boys, pop ’em into a buttered bread roll and load it up with tomato sauce. That’s what I did to revisit them too, because I’m nothing if not COMMITTED TO JOURNALISM IN IT’S TRUEST FORM. Turns out the formula has changed since I was ten – these are spicier and more flavoursome than I remember, but in a good way.
I then ate one solo and found they really hold up. Delicious stuff.
8. Single Serve Lasagne
I already said I fucked heavily with these as a kid, but what I meant is I literally ordered these as my lunch order every goddamn day they were available.
The revisit was ALL TIME! These things are fucking delicious! It’s like Sizzler bolognese sauce and unidentifiable cheese glob all mixed together, look!
Ok, don’t look. Pretend you didn’t see that, avert your eyes if you’ve missed it! The point is, I am just as down with single serve lasagne in 2019 as I was in 1999.
9. Single Serve Macaroni And Cheese
Another thing I heavily fucked with was the other single serve option at the old tuck shop – mac and cheese. These look like this in real life (exactly what you expect):
Like Clag glue and pasta. Delicious. And it WAS – that Clag glue cheese sauce is a delight and a half.
10. Yummy Drummies
Why – WHY – were Yummy Drummies shaped like a drumstick. It’s unnecessary and odd. It’s not even a well-shaped drumstick, it’s a bit skewiff on the top and the bone is too big.
This is just a glorified chicken nugget and a flavourless one at that. I had to douse it with tomato sauce to make it remotely palatable, which is likely what I did in school anyway.
11. Pizza Roundas
The, I believe, inferior cousin of the Pizza Pocket. FIGHT ME, OK? These are a weird colour (too white, not like the pic) and exterior was far too thick, meaning less saucy filling. The sauce was also inferior – very capsicumy.
Do not engage.
12. Meat Pie
Cannot do a story about canteen food without acknowledging the Humble Meat Pie. A classic. We’ve all experienced one since primary school so not much to report here besides my heinous way of eating it – ripping the lid off, squirting sauce INTO the meat, eating the lid separately then scooping filling out with a spoon.
Am I not well? Yes.
13. Strawberry Milk
Confession: I fucking love strawberry milk. But I hadn’t had a container of it in years so I bought one for the servo. Here’s a thing – drinking 600ml of milk seems abnormal for any human being.
Here’s another thing – strawberry milk is delicious treat. 10/10 recommend.
14. Pizza Singles
These were… fine? Fine in school, fine in 2019. It’s just a small shitty pizza that’s sub par to Pizza Hut.Image: Chickadee