That’s right. Leftovers. Food that was not consumed at some previous meal.
Leftovers are a reality in every kitchen. If you tell me you don’t have any in your fridge right now or that you never eat them, well, I would have a hard time believing you.
Moms love leftovers. At least this mom does. Leftovers give me a bye night in the kitchen. True, I love to cook. But sometimes I just don’t want to think about it. It’s hard to come up with great ideas every. single. night. And I have blog posts and kids’ books to write. When I ask the Hub for input, we often end up playing a down and dirty round of What Do You Want to Do About Dinner. So leftovers get planned intentionally here every now and then. Or every week.
I’m pretty lucky in the leftover food department. My family takes them in stride. Sometimes they give up a little “Huzzah!” when I say “we’re having the leftover ____” from the other night, especially if it’s Zilla’s favorite Swedish meatballs.
Here to offer the Dad’s perspective on leftovers is my new-ish friend and awesome blogger, Eli from Coach Daddy. Eli’s posts are sometimes funny, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes poignant. His Go Ask Daddy and 6 Words features are fantastic. Please give him a warm welcome here and then go check him out over at his place. You’ll be glad you did.
Leftovers. I know people who won’t eat them, under any circumstances.
I’ve refereed skirmishes that have broken out over whose leftover China Den is whose.
Leftovers. They’re polarizing.
They’re a cornerstone of human life. Since Ubod the Cro-Magnon failed to finish a side of mammoth in one sitting. (He saved the rest in the back of the cave). Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Redd Foxx and even Mitt Romney partook. Leftovers: Constant as death, taxes, and the raiders missing the playoffs.
In modern family life, leftovers fall into the dwindling domain of a father’s jurisdiction. You’ll find it in the Bylaws of Fatherhood. It’s right there. Next to “exterminator,” “cash dispenser*” and “rule bender.”
*- Not including dads whose finances look less like Mark Cuban’s and more like Argentina’s. You can’t squeeze sweet and sour sauce from an empty packet.
The Rules of Leftovers are unofficial and unwritten, well, until now. Here’s what you need to know about leftovers – from dad’s ornamental throne.
Asian calculation: If you want to ensure you eat the maximum sesame chicken out of your entree, don’t leave it to the Fridge Gods. A kid will scavenge your meat and leave you with rice and water chestnuts.
Bring it from the table: Dad will pick up your crayons and crackers, but your box of chow is your responsibility at the restaurant.*
*-Sesame chicken not included in this clause. Dad will hold it.
Corn chips: The worst possible leftover. Your delectable nachos become a soggy sack of limpness. Dig in and finish your chips.
Destructive Intent Waiver: Once a leftover food surpasses the threshold for safe consumption, use it as a weapon of mass destruction. Just don’t tell mom.
Empty container clause: If you eat 17 ravioli and leave two in the bucket, you’re required to eat tuna and crackers for your next meal. Finish the job, son.
Fancy restaurant: If the leftovers come from a swanky place – which includes premium burgers from McDonald’s – original eater gets rights of first refusal, unless you can be sly and stealth about it.
Hit Me Baby One More Time Act: Always – ALWAYS – ask for a refill of whatever drink you ordered. At $2.75 a shot, it’ll take at least four servings to break even. Do it for the team.
Identification advice: If it looks like one menu item, but is the color of another … just pass.
Look the Other Way Agreement: If your leftover box cubic space far outpaces your actual leftover mass, it’s customary to fill the space with a ‘souvenir’ restaurant glass or soup spoon. Don’t tell mom.
Microwave etiquette: If it’s stinky, don’t overdo it. Four minutes on high is way too long for twice-heated noodles and wasabi.
Nincompoop provision: No mercy or sympathy expected for the dolt who: 1) leaves her box of leftovers at the restaurant; or b) leaves his box of leftovers on the roof of the car.
One-week rule: I’ve read in National Geographic that organized Caucasian families have a color-code system to help keep leftovers from going uneaten. In our house, if it crawls (fast), toss it out.
Pizza Commandments: Thou shalt not strip toppings. Thou shalt not take the last slice without daddy’s blessing. Thou shalt not leave only crusts in the box. Thou shalt not leave empty box in the fridge.
Ribeye Rules: No one can eat any leftovers of a steak that costs more than $13 without written consent from the person who ordered it.*
*-Expect an inquisition. Ain’t no kid getting a porterhouse when dad’s footing the bill.
Serving size: There’s no such limit on leftovers. Ain’t no nutrition label. Just eat it – all of it.
Taste-tester: This would be dad. “Hey, is this Cajun turkey breast still fresh? I can’t read the year on the package.” No problem. Dad will bite a chunk. Watch for adverse effects.
Utopian World Order: Kids would eat last night’s chili and Tuesday’s pot roast before they fired up another plate of microwave chicken nuggets and a gargantuan bowl of frosted flakes.
Work fridge: This is the Wild West of Leftover Territory. Nothing’s sacred. Taking a bite out of your day-old Monte Cristo won’t deter a work-fridge hyena. These dudes are hardcore.
Zero-soda Regulations: Dad knows you have water and juice and Kool-aid. Dad knows the level of his Coke Zero at all moments.
So endeth the reading.
What’s your family’s leftover story?
When he’s not fishing and waxing philosophic with one of his kids or trying his damnedest to keep them young, Eli Pacheco writes the blog Coach Daddy. Follow him on Google Plus, Pinterest and Twitter.