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Quiet Snacks: Library Edition

October 25, 2010

Libraries are great, quiet places, but there are a lot of rules, both explicit (shhh! no talking!) and implied (shhh! no eating crunchy things, and no eating silent but sticky things either!). After yesterday’s post about eating quietly in one’s workplace, I received a special request: recommendations for quiet library snacks. What works, what doesn’t, what’s delicious and what’s just plain wrong.

It’s true that offices afford a certain amount of snacking luxury, from kitchens with fridges in which to store perishable treats until snacktime, to toaster ovens, napkins, and facilities for washing up. And, even the most exposed office cubicle affords more privacy than the remotest study carrel (no librarian would be impressed to catch you whipping out a “quiet” plastic container of leftover spaghetti, fork, spoon, and napkin, then digging in over volume R of some pricey, rare and single-copy reference-only encyclopaedia). By comparison, if I slop noodles all over a case file, that’s my problem and mine alone, nothing lost but the time it takes that afternoon to redo the soiled paperwork.

Key features of library snacks are:

1. transportable

2. clean and tidy

3. non-perishable

4. absence of crinkly wrappers


Once you’ve mastered an array of library-worthy snacks that satisfy the above-listed criteria, you can move on to advance snacking moves, such as: healthy and well-balanced; seasonal; homemade; not the same as yesterday’s snack; and, not the same as what you’re going to bring tomorrow. That being said, I think it’s important to begin at the beginning, and in this case, this means entry-level snacking. As a general rule, your library snacks should travel well in a knapsack or satchel, leave you with clean fingers, and should not endanger any library materials nor should your snacks endanger or truncate your own life (for instance, candy bars are pretty quiet once slipped from their plastic wrappers, but really, do you want to spend your library time building a foundation of knowledge along with a foundation for adult-onset diabetes? Yes, I am scolding like a carrot-stick wielding mom.). Following are some reliable treats upon which it’s ok to library-feast:

1. dried fruit: apples, apricots, raisins, cherries…dried bananas and plantains are out! so crunchy, those little fuckers!

2. fresh bananas (see above note re: dried): this can be a tricky one though, because if your banana is too ripe, it’s going to give off that rotten sugary smell that pretty much escalates to “garbage” aroma once your relieve the peel of its fruit.

3. pears: ripe enough to not crunch but not so ripe that the juice streams down your wrist into your sweater sleeve and plips onto the desk and accidentally ends up all over your books.

4. shortbread: the delicious homemade kind that really is treat magic, in my opinion. You can make it plain, or add maple sugar, herbs, dried flowers, pepper, spices, just about anything (anything not crunchy or loud, that is).

5. PB & J: if you know me, and/ or you know this blog, then you know when it comes to sandwiches, I’m a hater. But, sometimes the situation calls for a sandwich, and of all the types you might enjoy at the library (or in my case, subject myself to the ordeal of eating), peanut butter and jam (or banana) fits the criteria: quiet, tidy, no mess, no spills, no leaks, no stink, no utensils required. And, as every kid knows, even after you’ve chucked a math textbook, an apple, and a pair of gym shoes into your bag on top of it, a peanut butter and jam sandwich still tastes just fine.

6. muffins and loaf breads: like shortbread, there is an endless possibility here, and if you make your own, you can satisfy the “don’t eat shit that’s sugary and bad for you” criteria, too. Zucchini, banana, apple sauce, lemon poppy seed, blueberry, olive oil, and on and on and on. So delicious!

7. non-stinky cheese: yeah, I know…if it doesn’t stink, it just isn’t cheese. But, a nice sturdy mozzarella or a serviceable cheddar is perfectly fine at library snack time. Especially with a slice of #6.

8. dates chopped up really fine and mashed together with slivered or ground almonds: yes, they look like poo. No, there is no way around that association. But holy crap (heh) they’re yummy!

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