An Apology to Leftovers
I am so sorry that I complained about you in the years past. I’m sorry that every time I asked my mom what we were having for dinner and she said “leftovers” I argued and said I wanted her to make something else – pasta, chicken, soup – anything that I hadn’t been served within the last 72 hours. I was young and naive and didn’t fully comprehend the amazingness that is you.
You see, back then I didn’t prepare my own food. My parents made my lunches and dinner for me. They were delicious, but because I was such a brat, I became demanding about the delicious food they prepared for me.
It wasn’t until I left for college that I really began to grasp how exhausting it is to prepare a new meal every night. Not only do you work/go to class all day, but then you also have to go home and cook dinner every single night? Did I mention the dishes that then had to be done after all the preparation and eating?! No thank you. Not gonna happen. On the bright side, when you are only cooking for one or two (such as myself and a roommate), it was almost impossible to make the exact right amount… that meant there was, heaven forbid, leftovers.
That is when my life changed.
I began to appreciate the leftover pizza that was in the fridge for two days. The Americanized Chinese food* in its white little boxes. The chicken bits that Christine and I like to call “nibs.” And the spaghetti, oh the spaghetti! So delicious. And the best part? That none of those things have to be heated up in order to be delicious the next day! (Of course you could heat them in the microwave if you wanted to, but it wasn’t a necessary step.)
By senior year of college – after only having cooked for myself for three years – I was done making a new dish every night. No more coming home exhausted and then slaving over a hot stove! No more trying to figure out whether or not I have the right ingredients for a specific recipe! No more cooking, eating, and then cleaning everything! I was done!
It was liberating.
Christine and I started making entire boxes of spaghetti for the two of us – that would last us for three days (lunch and dinner) before we finally ran out. We started grabbing sandwiches from our favorite deli just so we would have leftovers, eating half of them at lunch and then saving the rest for dinner. When I graduated from college and had my entire family over for dinner after the ceremony we had a ridiculous amount of Mexican food that was leftover. It wasn’t a problem though. That food sustained us and we loved it.
Oh, and the monetary impact that eating leftovers has had on my life! Instead of leaving the leftover pasta on my plate at the restaurant, I take it home with me. Mashed potatoes and broccoli that I didn’t eat? Pack it up! It’s like getting two meals for the price of one. What a concept!
As I sit here and eat my reheated shrimp fried rice, chicken chow fun, and General Tso’s chicken, I can’t help but think back on the darker times in my life. The times when I refused to eat the leftover pasta. Wouldn’t touch the takeout box sitting in the fridge the next morning. Those were sad, sad times.
So you see leftovers, people can change. I have changed.
I thank you for sustaining me throughout my four years of college and now, as I enter the “real world” and start my career, I will depend on you often after a long day at work. My co-workers might hate me for having my Tupperware in the communal fridge for a few days, but I won’t care! I won’t care because I will have my leftovers and they will save me time and money.
So thank you. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you. You are a wonderful part of my life and I’m sorry it took me so many years to realize it.
*I’ve been to China and real Chinese food is very different than what we call Chinese food.