There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who like leftovers, and those who won’t eat them.
I’ve never understood the resistance that some folks have to eating them. I’m not one of them. I love making a meal out of what wound up in the Tupperware containers over the previous few days.
Even the great comedian George Carlin mocked the word “leftover.” He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Leftover is such a sad word. Who would want to be a leftover? Unless of course they’re taking people out to be shot.”
I have always felt sorry for leftovers. They remind me of the almost-expired milk in the grocery store. People open the refrigerator door, take a closer look, and then reach around them for something younger.
Even food and milk know the pains of age discrimination.
So, for the benefit of those who raise their noses at the thought of having to reheat, repurpose, and repeat food from the fridge, I will do my best to make the case for leftovers.
Let’s start with pizza. There’s not much else that’s better than walking in the door after a long, hard day with a boxed and hot pizza pie in your hand. Everyone in the house is glad to see it and you. You’re somewhat like the armored knight, riding in on a white steed, saving everyone at the last minute from certain doom.
Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve seen the looks in my kids more than once when I walked in with an extra large, deep dish supreme. It’s about the closest you get as a parent to public expressions of love from your children.
People wash up and quickly scramble for a plate, napkins, Parmesan cheese, and hot pepper flakes, and then they dig in. But, the few slices of pizza that are left are then shoved into a Ziploc, where they can remain untouched.
I understand that no one cares for leftover microwaved pizza. As valuable as microwave ovens are in our society, I think they’re one of the worst things to happen to our kitchens. They turn pizza into roofing material.
The trick to eating leftover pizza is the oven or the toaster oven. Put it on a cookie sheet with a wire rack and heat for a few minutes, and your pizza is as good as when you came home on your white steed. I also like cold pizza, especially for breakfast.
Speaking of cold leftovers, is there anything better than a cold, roast beef sandwich? Granted, roast beef cooked in a Crockpot (not a modern Crockpot, but one from the 70s or 80s – see my previous column on Crockpots on my website at johnmoore.net/blog) is country goodness. Even the toughest beef roast can turn into the most tender and tasty meal with the right Crockpot and several hours of slow cooking.
But, if you dig out that pot roast from the fridge the next day, put some real mayonnaise on a couple of pieces of light bread, and stack up some of that beef between them, you have what’s considered in Arkansas to be a fine, three-course meal.
That reminds me of eating baloney sandwiches growing up and folks bragging about how they only ate center-cut bologna. But, I digress.
One of the other ways to creatively consume leftovers is to take them all out of the fridge, open the containers, and spoon a little bit of all of it into one of those large tortillas your wife buys for fajita night. This willingness to experiment while also helping to clean out the fridge can lead to some very interesting taste combinations.
One of the most amazing non traditional food combos I was exposed to was when I was about 18. I was with my friend Steve at a restaurant in Dallas when the waitress asked what we were having (I know, technically this isn’t a leftover, but just bear with me), when I announced that I would have whatever Steve was having. He asked, “Are you sure?” And I nodded.
He pulled her to the side and whispered our orders. She return a bit later with pickle and peanut butter sandwiches with chips on the side. At first, I regretted my decision. But after eating it, I liked it. If you’re looking for a quick meal from what’s in the fridge, this ones a winner. But, go with sliced dills. The sweet ones don’t work that well.
Peanut butter can also be added to lots of other leftover combos, including a hamburger, or a grilled cheese sandwich. Also, if you want some excitement on a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich, slide some Doritos or Cheetos in there.
This is America. We should use our freedom to support the food that is still there at the end of a meal, and we should stand up and be counted among those who aren’t afraid to say, “I love leftovers.”
After reading this, you still may not be sold on leftovers. But without a doubt, eating them is far better than being taken out and shot.
©2018 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon.
Email John at John@TheCountryWriter.com.