28 February 2012

The Art of Dining, Part I: Subterranean Break Room

Anthony approached me with the idea to "eat our way through the museum" back in July of 2011. When he first told me what he wanted to do, I couldn't help but think of the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar, eating his way through all sorts of beautiful delicacies. Like the Caterpillar, we started small, and worked our way up to the grandiose.

We began in the basement break-room of my office building, which is connected to Allerton, the first and oldest building of our museum complex. The building has five floors, and it's confusing because there are two lower levels. The break-room is easily missed and often neglected because it is in the lowest part of the building. I worked here for three months before realizing that it was even down there. And to my dismay, there were vending machines, two microwaves, a giant fridge, and a cabinet full of condiments. This was quite a discovery!

Anthony and I are both big believers in the concept of bringing your own lunch to work, because 1) it saves money, and 2) our lunches tend to be better than on-the-go lunches in the Loop anyways. In the office, I'm actually known for bringing meals in jars (see: polenta, pasta, soups of every variety, beans, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, etc). It took my coworkers a while to get used to it, and I'm happy to say that it has gone from being a novelty to being "normal".

Part of the gimmick of this plan was that we had to eat something in every location - that said, we hit the vending machines to supplement what we had brought ourselves. anthony vending 
big burger vending machine
taquitos Anthony opted for taquitos, and I settled on my all-time-favorite, Flaming Hot Cheetohs. Shout out to all my 2010 AIC Intern converts! While Anthony microwaved, we rummaged through drawers, only to discover this:
condiment drawer A cabinet full of generic ketchup and mustard. I felt like we stumbled upon a treasure trove. If I ever need condiments, I know exactly where to go, not to mention this is a lifetime supply of it. lunchtime For lunch I brought cold pizza. I love cold pizza. I rarely get to eat it because between Spencer and I, there is never any pizza leftover. But here we have cold pizza, Flaming Hot Cheetohs, Fage Greek yogurt, farmer's market cherries, nectarines, and plums. I tried a taquito. It was really weird. I don't really nosh on things like that, so it was an experience. peaches These photographs were taken before the break-room was renovated. There was something incredibly retro about this space at the time. The old worn-in brown vinyl booths felt dated, but the space was cozy. The faded posters from previous exhibitions added color, but not much, given they had lost a lot of their color. The florescent lights gave everything an unnatural glow, but the space was quiet and comfy. They have since remodeled the break-room, and I have yet to check it out. But once in a while, I do find myself wandering down there thinking about how badly I would love to eat Flaming Hots, but often settling for Chex-mix since it's more "work appropriate" given that it doesn't stain my fingers atomic red.


  1. this is the best series. you were born to work in a museum, sandy.

    i love you.

  2. Thanks girl! I'm thinking that this could become a regular feature. Lunch is one of my favorite parts of the day. Plus there are some really good hidden gems in the Loop that I seldom tell people about...