It’s one of those words I hate like “cluster”, “skin tag”, and “ironing”. The mere word “leftovers” conjures images of foods that have outlived their usefulness, worn out their welcome: wrinkled green beans, mushy pasta, hopelessly separated sauces, rubbery meat with a bizarre aftertaste. A mere shadow of its former glory, a leftover reminds me of a singer from a bygone era, still belting out antique tunes on a stage in Branson. It’s just sad and I can’t bear the thoughts. I don’t see pasty, soggy fried chicken … I see 80-year-old Elvis, still strutting his saggy stuff across a glossy stage, his quivery voice cracking as he bumps and grinds his walker to a “party at the county jail”.
I began to wonder if I was completely alone in my disdain. I’ve known people who cooked three days’ worth of food on a Friday and then re-warmed it the whole weekend long. (*wave of nausea*) A woman standing at the deli counter once told me that she bought herself a rotisserie chicken and would then “eat on it all week”. (*gulp*) Nanny used to boil leftover meat and make stir-fry out of it. (*heave*) Apparently, just like s’mores, green bean casserole, and onion straws, leftovers are very popular … and I’ve never exactly had an affinity for what is popular.
This may explain my hatred for frozen entrees, which are little more than commercially prepared leftovers with a half-teaspoon of blueberry crumble for dessert. It’s a frozen doggy bag for crying out loud, and people spend millions every year buying this stuff. I don’t get it. What pains me are the colorful terms people use for their leftovers: “seconds”, “dinner revisited”, “encore”, “Lazarus” … really? You’re naming your chewy roast beef and withered carrots after a “revisited” dead guy? (And on a side note, if carrots are so full of wrinkle-fighting antioxidants, why do the “resurrected” ones look like my great, great grandma?)
This is the one area where my best friend, Pocahontas, and I don’t see eye-to-eye. She will order an extra-large picnic meal from the local Chicken Frying Experts down the street and then refrigerate it. Over the next few nights, she and her family will heat up the leftovers for dinner, and the put them back in the fridge again. The mere thoughts of this makes me shudder. Only in my nightmares could I invent anything more unbelievably horrendous. Like every rule, there are a few exceptions. I have no trouble reheating spaghetti sauce (sans pasta), chili, black bean soup, or Chinese takeout fried rice. And that’s about it. Yes, it means I have to cook every night. Yes, it means I have to carefully consider how much I am preparing to prevent waste. Yes, it means I am treated to a fresh creation every time. And that, to me, is worth every ounce of effort. It’s how I show love to my family and how I feel like I have done my best for them. Pocahontas, on the other hand, has no issues with leftovers. Her issue lies in the painstaking effort of cooking. She hates it. She absolutely hates it. She would much rather reorganize her organized closet organizational system or polish her polished table until it is spotlessly polished with furniture polish. That’s what floats her boat. That’s what makes her feel like her home is, well, homey. She refrains from singing “White Christmas” to my dusty picture frames, and I manage to stop myself from singing “Cold, Cold Heart” to the Chicken Frying Experts box in her fridge. Our differences make us who we are, and that’s OK.
But I still hate leftovers.
© Bertha Grizzly 2011. All Rights Reserved. No duplication or distribution.