Monday, November 28, 2011

Leftovers? Not On My Watch!

by Sophie

LEFTOVERS

Here is something you'll almost never see at my house - a full refrigerator. This photo was taken after Thanksgiving, before I'd had time to sneak in and toss it all in the trash.



I hate leftovers.

I used to be afraid to admit this. I've encountered too many people who find it a moral failing, akin to throwing pop cans into the trash instead of recycling, or killing weeds with kerosene - disrespectful to a struggling planet. And I suppose there's something to be said for that point of view, because if I'd just eat the damn things instead of getting rid of them the minute the rest of the household isn't looking, I suppose I could save time and money and more than a few bags of potato chips.

But trust me, any gains to be had from ingesting last week's lasagna or yesterday's chinese food are FAR, FAR outweighed by my discomfort - nay, revulsion - at the prospect.

I know exactly why I feel this way. Suffice it to say it's highly personal, dating back to formative years with people who either allowed food castoffs to grow into colonies of mold, or else worked hard to wedge recycled cottage cheese and yogurt containers full of foodstuffs into every square inch of the fridge (sorry, Dad! very proud of you for being an early Greenie! But YUCK!)

Bliss, to me, is a clean fridge with no discernible odor and so few items on the shelves that it looks like an art installation. Over time I found out I'm not alone. Like so many emotionally weighted issues, it all seems to trace back to one's past, and to skip generations. Those reared with abundance (or out and out visual/olfactory assault, as the case may be) seem to prefer paucity. Those who had to deal with barren shelves (like my own poor children) grow up to hoard vast stores, comforted, I suppose, by the prospect of never running out.

Remember that back page of Bon Appetit - for all I know they're still doing it - where they ask a celebrity what three things are always in her fridge? And how everyone always mentions champagne? Seriously it was like, "tempeh, green peppercorns, and CHAMPAGNE" or "bacon fat, canned frosting, and CHAMPAGNE" or even "spermicidal gel, larvae, and CHAMPAGNE"....well, honestly, my fridge always, always has a bottle of champagne rolling around somewhere. My other two items would be heavy whipping cream (for my coffee) and butter. What about y'all?

16 comments:

L.G.C. Smith said...

I was trained by rural people who lived a long, long ways from grocery stores, so the refrigerator was either crammed full (just back from town) or pretty sparse (need to go to town). Big freezers were common as was buying a side of beef at a time. And you know the Schwann trucks? Kept in business in rural South Dakota by my family.

Leftovers got kept and eaten on a strict schedule for consumption. It remains a moral failing to let anything go green that shouldn't, or let anything that starts out green go to slime. Needless to say, neither grosses me out. The trick is remembering how old the stuff in between yesterday's leftovers and science project material is. You know the saying. When in doubt, throw it out.

My refrigerator always contains greek yogurt, lettuce, apples, kale, cabbage, or arugula, red peppers, carrots, celery, eggs, milk, butter, some kind of cheese, some kind of leftover chicken and jam. 95% of it's organic. And it would disgust you completely. I don't want to talk about the bags of greens that get lost in the back of the lower shelves.

Rachael Herron said...

I hate leftovers, although I'm only half of the people that put things in my fridge so they make their way in there. My admission: I throw tupperware out willy-nilly. If somethings looks like it might be green, I do not wash the storage container. I'm going to eco-hell for it, but I can't bear to do it.

Sophie Littlefield said...

LGC, your practices are what i would aspire to in a perfect world! I know that when the apocalypse comes and i have to feed the family for a week on a cat or something, i will have to be much more attentive. i waste a lot of food.

but at least i'll have company in eco-hell :)

Mike Cooper said...

Since I come from the exact same background, I understand completely :) Nothing feels better than throwing everything out and looking at a few empty shelves.

On the other hand, we do have about ten different jars of bulk items -- quinoa, amaranth, oats, yeast, wheat germ, etc -- on hand all the time.

My wife is with me on washing out all recyclables, but I lost her when I started washing all the produce bags, too.

Adrienne Miller said...

This is where you and I differ. I love me some leftovers. Big fan of 'plenty'. Saving half of my dinner for tomorrow's lunch. Turning chickens into chicken salad. All of it.

Gigi Pandian said...

This was quite the point of contention when moving in together 10 years ago. I love leftovers and he hates them -- both solidly held opinions stemming from our childhoods. Our happy medium is now that I save whatever I want to (i.e. everything), and he does a fridge purge once a week.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Wait wait wait. I was with you on the champagne, but...spermicidal gel is supposed to be kept in the refrigerator??? Really? This could explain a lot of things...

Sophie Littlefield said...

hee hee mike....i am imagining the conversation our two refrigerators would have, sitting side by side, mine weighted down by the 30 bags of chips on top, yours full of wonderful, lovely healthy things. Mine is going to go into shock when I shop for your visit - going to cook "proper" for the week! - and no orange food except for, well, oranges!

Sophie Littlefield said...

JULIET!!!! blush, blush, blush!

Gigi - great compromise. Mine's similar, except I get to throw out anything i want the minute people leave the room. :)

and adrienne....is *that* the difference between us? Huh!

Unknown said...

What's w/the guilt in throwing out leftovers these days? That's what the annoying food scrap containers are for, no? While we're fans of leftovers, their charms are limited & subject to our fickle moods.

Like L.G.C. Smith (waving hello after chatting w/you at Julie's delightful party), we have a mix of leftovers (part Italian, why would I cook such a small amount of food if I can cook for the imaginary Soprano's crew in my head?) & fresh stuff, mostly organic, w/an admitted mix of lost healthy items that get ignored til it's too late.

But we no longer worry about wasting leftovers as much, because our guilt is assuaged by knowing it gets turned into compost if we have the courage to dump it in the food scrap container. The serious science experiments get thrown out fully contained, to be discovered decade from now by some curious explorer who's poking through landfill in a hazmat suit.

Jon said...

Alas, I feel a moral failing at not eating leftovers. The rest of the family does not. Therefore, they keep cooking and I keep eating both.

This may have something to do with my girth. Who knew morality could lead to obesity.

New motto: "I'm not fat--I'm just a good guy!"

Lisa Hughey said...

I love leftovers but I am definitely in the minority in my house. I hate to throw out food. It's the Scot in me, I'd guess. Frugal to the end. It's really hard for me to throw away food. Really, really hard. Although I do it when I have to. (And Rach--I've been known to throw out those containers too. Yuck.)

Nicole Peeler said...

OMG my dad is the same way and it drives me nuts. My parents almost only ever eat out, and I hate it. I can only eat out a few times in a row before I feel like a bloated monster. But whenever I'm staying with my parents for a while and I go to cook at home or reheat something I cooked the night before....all the food is GONE.

shirawindschitl said...

I have been working very hard to learn to cook without making left overs. I don't like them, but feel a need to keep them anyway. And eat them. Things are never as good the second time around. Cooking for one and a half gets rather difficult when trying to follow casserole recipes though. I will work on making a tiny casserole cookbook for myself.

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