What’s your stance on leftovers?
“Do you mind if we have leftovers?”
When my wife poses that question, I always answer, “No, that’s fine,” because (a) I genuinely enjoy leftovers, (b) I don’t want to cause extra trouble for her and (c) I can’t afford the airline tickets to transport a Tupperware container of six-day-old broccoli to all those “starving children on the other side of the world who would give their right arm for a fraction of the food you and your siblings are wasting.”
Unless I redeem my “frequent guilt trip miles.” But I digress.
Although leftovers are a societal bone of contention year-round, they are particularly controversial in the last month of the year, as Americans race to finish off the wretched excess of Thanksgiving leftovers before the creation of a wretched excess of Christmas leftovers. (“I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my relaxed-fit sweatpants…”) And don’t forget the wretched excess of New Year edibles. The only thing that drops faster than the Times Square ball is my good cholesterol.
Yes, even though urbanization and feminism have gotten us away from the notion of needing to fortify a clan of hungry fieldhands, tradition and gluttony still make us cook/ take-out/“five-second rule” way too much food.
The right attitude and right recipes can help us stop wasting all that food. A creative chef can turn yesterday’s turkey into turkey sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey soup and countless other variations. (“You can still make a wish with the wishbone, even in aerosol form.”) One of my friends spent several years writing a book about repurposing kale and fruitcake. Ironically enough, it wound up in the remaindered bin.
Of course, there are limits to reinventing last night’s supper. Your children’s delicate sensibilities should be taken into consideration when
contemplating leftovers. Don’t torture them by making them eat carrots two days in a row after their busy day of watching the same “PAW Patrol” and “Peppa Pig” episodes for the 500th time.
Maybe you’d better be sitting down for this, but leading researchers have determined that the people least likely to lend a hand whipping up a new menu item are the most likely to gripe about leftovers. (“Next, we won a research grant to study washing the dishes. Sweet. Let’s celebrate. What… lobster AGAIN?”) Human beings really should hold themselves to a higher standard than my tomcat Moggie. No matter how much dry food he finds already on his plate, he expects a few “fresh” bits dropped on the plate before he’ll deign to eat. His mother neglected those all-important lessons about starving cats on the other side of the world.
I grew up eating whatever was set in front of me (I tried eating what was set behind me, but my career as a budding contortionist couldn’t handle the chiropractic bills), so I grind my teeth when I hear some effete snob regarding himself as too good to eat leftovers. (Whoa…grinding my teeth dislodged some leftover cranberry sauce. Better the second time around.)
Citizens in First World countries are notorious about sending food to the landfill. We need to revive the World War II motto “Take all you want, but eat all you take.” Then we can stop being so tolerant of a chuckled “Guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach.”
Maybe the right response is “But my boot and your rear are a perfect match.”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”