Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving launches several weeks of nearly universal comestibles-centric living. In our house, the Christmas ham is nearly a memory (a few now frozen slabs will be featured in my next batch of pea soup), and many of the season’s bounteous gastronomic gifts have been joyfully devoured. Still various tempting, tasty treats linger — to my combined delight and chagrin.
Come early January, I’m ready to resume my normal diet, but what to do with the leftovers and currently unopened tins of cookies and boxes of chocolate? Unlike the more perishable cheeses and sausages that are shared with guests and served as part of quick in-between Christmas and New Year’s snacks, the items with longer shelf lives present a greater challenge — and danger — especially to folks like me who hate to see any victuals go bad.
This is no doubt at least partly the result of being raised by children of The Great Depression, who devoutly believed wasting food is sinful. Someone, even if it was one of the dogs, polished off the remains of every meal. I can’t remember much that was edible being thrown away. Not that we ate anything moldy or spoiled. We just ate all that was fit to eat, as long as it was fit to eat.
I have a real problem disposing of perfectly good grub. Deep-seated guilt drives me to digest more than I sometimes care to, or that’s particularly good for me. There are often occasions when I drain the dregs, so to speak, of items I actually don’t like.
For instance, rarely does my family leave a restaurant without doggie bags, the diverse contents of which will generally provide me with eclectic lunches over the following couple of days. While doing dishes I become a human garbage disposal and scarf down the last two tablespoons of side dishes left in the serving bowl or pot.
When the need arises, as it did just the other day, I will personally dispatch the last quarter of the last doughnut in the box. In this case I was left little choice. Growing crusty two days after all its brothers and sisters had been gobbled up, that lonely, red velvet remnant sadly peeked at me through the little cellophane window each time I passed by. Prior to its final passage, the mouth-size morsel had lain next to those unconsumed, least popular cookie bits that will continue to sit in the Rubbermaid container on the kitchen island for weeks to come until I finally, reluctantly, admit defeat and accept that no one, not even me, is going to put them out of my misery as I sadly dump them in the trash.
This holiday season may be heading into memory, but it’s not quite done with me yet, for I find I’m still faced with the delectable dilemma of waste not, want not versus waist more, want less.
Best wishes to all for a Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous New Year!
Susan Writer pens a regular column for fredericknewspost.com and is one of The Frederick News-Post’s Board of Contributors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.