We had a discussion this week about leftovers, what with the bounty of Thanksgiving dinner and the fun of preparing different flavours for everyone to try. It seems sometimes even though we diligently label them and put them in the fridge for later use they sometimes end up growing legs and coming out to greet us much later. This is unfortunately a sign of the bounty we live with. I have to admit I for one dislike the wasting of food so we try our best to use everything. But did you know that in some cultures it is a sign of respect for the host to leave few bites of food on your plate?
In North American kitchens it has generally been the rule that you were to clean your plate. Leftovers for us are something to be used, sometimes creatively. We all know the many permutations of cooked turkey that occur after Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is a charming dish from England called “bubble and squeak” that is made from pan-frying the leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables, which is served with the cold meat. Many casseroles come from using up combinations of leftover ingredients. (Fried rice and paella can work this way, too – the idea was obviously not unique to this side of the ocean.) However, I think the problem arises when there is a great deal of one thing. You can only eat so many bowls of turkey soup after having had turkey lasagna, hot turkey sandwiches, turkey cacciatore, turkey burritos… It occurs to me that the best time to try and launch a surprise military attack would be in the week following Christmas, as we all have enough tryptophan in our systems to make us just this side of comatose!
Here are a few bits of leftover trivia for you:
- Did you know that Australia is trying to ban the “doggy bag” in restaurants, to avoid people consuming food they didn’t keep at proper temperatures?
- If you love crossword puzzles, remember the word “ort” – it is another word for a leftover
- Did you know that Tupperware was really invented by Mr. Tupper? Earl Silias Tupper started the company in 1946, and was one of the pioneers of home-based marketing with the home parties he created. It is now sold in over 100 countries.
In our house I am the one who eats or prepares many of the leftovers. I love leftovers for lunch. Cold pizza is a great lunch treat. I should include the warning that you need to put your leftover pizza in the fridge; did you know the USDA advises college students that although it will keep for 3-4 days, that is only true if you use the fridge (as opposed to a desk drawer, I suppose).
Leftover veggies can be added to omelettes, soups or burritos. Of course nowadays with the advent of the microwave, the simple act of warming up a dish has become a standard. I remember my Mom used to warm things up in the electric frying pan; I don’t think they even make those anymore.
The one caveat to eating leftovers is that you should still take the time to enjoy the food. We seem to be so focused on going at mach speed that eating sometimes takes a back seat. I am guilty of eating lunch at my desk most days, and I can tell you that it doesn’t taste nearly as good as when I take the time to stop and enjoy it, especially with a bit of company to wash it down.
I would love to hear your favourite leftover dishes… or are you someone who only likes to enjoy food once? If you can manage to prepare the right amount of food then that is a great philosophy. If you have any hints there, I am happy to hear those too. Feel free to send me an e-mail or comment on my Facebook page!