Do you like leftovers?

We had a discussion this week about leftovers, and how sometimes even though we put them in the fridge use they sometimes disappear into the nether regions and reappear in another (much less desirable) form later.

This is unfortunately a sign of the bounty we live with. I dislike wasting 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 a few bites of food on your plate?

In North American kitchens, it has generally been the rule that you were to clean your plate. You probably got the same speech I did as a kid: “There are people starving in Africa, don’t be wasting anything.” 

Even the crusts on a sandwich were not to be left on a plate.

Leftovers in our house are something to be used, often 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” made from pan-frying the leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables, which is then 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.)

Usually, the problem arises when there is a large amount of one food. 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 for an enemy to launch a sneak 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; even the USDA is sure to advise college students that although it will keep for three to four days, that is only true if you use the fridge.

Leftover veggies can be added to omelettes, soups or burritos. Leftover meat can be used for sandwiches as well as with the veggies.

Of course, 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; do 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 have been guilty of eating lunch at my desk many days, and I can tell you that it doesn’t taste nearly as good as when I took the time to stop to enjoy it, especially with a bit of company to wash it down.

Ideally, fresh food is best, but if you have something left over then the good old internet has recipes galore to try. There are even apps that will find you recipes with ingredients you list.

I have had good success with Yummly. If you are finding you consistently make more than you can eat, perhaps that’s just a sign to invite friends over for dinner. (I’m free most Thursday nights if you need a chair filled.)

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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