Cafeteria blues: A year of mystery meat

So on the first day of school last January, she made her way to the cafeteria with the kids. Since that day, her commitment to eat lunch there every day has been tested by the prepackaged peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich that literally made her sick; by the monotony of processed, spongy meat patties; and by fears of being found out and losing her job.

Mrs. Q had blogged before — a personal blog that was read by an audience of two: her mom and her sister. But two weeks after she started the lunch blog, a mention by famed food writer and activist Marion Nestle prompted her traffic to soar into the hundreds, and then the thousands.

“That was really, really terrifying,” she said.

But she stuck with the blog. Day after day, patty after patty, she ate and she blogged, and began to find her voice: Her initial just-the-facts descriptions of gross meals evolved into funny stories about the kids at school and personal musings about food. She learned to drink the juice from the bottom of her fruit cup, just as the kids did. She learned to love cafeteria pizza; then she got sick of it; then she loved it again.