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What's for dinner? Leftovers!

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By Ken Begley

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years, she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

Calvin Trillin

We always have a lot of leftovers at our home.  Did you know leftovers could be dangerous in certain circumstances?  You should read the rest of this article to discover why.

It took me a while to figure out why we even have leftovers at our house.  My wife is an excellent cook, and everyone seems to have a healthy appetite.  So why do we even have any leftovers?  The answer can be summed up in two words:  “finicky eaters.”

Some will eat some things and wouldn’t touch others with a 10-foot pole.  My wife will try to placate the different appetites by cooking numerous meals at the same time.  Each gets partially eaten, resulting in numerous types of leftovers.  

I, on the other hand, don’t feel like that should happen.  I believe you should slap one meal on the table, and either they eat it, or they don’t.  

A meal with me goes like this.

Kid:  “What’s that on the table?”

Me:  “Supper.”

Kid:  “I don’t like it.”

Me:  “Thank you for your feedback.”

Kid:  “Make me something else.”

Me:  “How about a paper airplane.”

You know what?  They tell me that a paper airplane with a little ketchup on it don’t taste all that bad.

Sometimes the things they won’t eat amaze me.  

One daughter’s all-time favorite meal is “shells and cheese.”  We called this meal “macaroni and cheese” in my day.  That was a time when food didn’t have to look pretty in order to be devoured.  It’s another sign that America is going to the bad place in a hand-basket, if you ask me.

However, that same kid won’t eat it as a leftover.  She believes that shells and cheese, like fine wine, loses its “bouquet” after it has been uncorked or unboxed, as the case may be.  So, after eating a small quantity of the meal, the remainder gets stored away in its icy cold prison without parole.  

Eventually, the leftovers will mutate into some disgusting life form of low intelligence before being given the old “heave-ho” to the garbage can.  A tear will come to my eyes as I watch these wasted dollars leave my house in such unceremonious fashion.

Some leftovers never go to waste.  Have you ever seen left over ice cream, cake, or cookies?  If you have, then you’re surely in sad shape, and I just can’t help you in the limited space that I have in this column.

You’re probably saying right now, “This is all well and good, maybe, but what has this got to do with leftovers being dangerous to your health?”  They can be if you have no sense of smell.

Take me, for instance.  

I can take a big whiff of bleach and not be phased in the least.  I did so many years ago on a bet while in the army and won $10.  No sense of smell seems to dull the taste buds.  This was clearly demonstrated one day.

We had cooked a big ham that no one wanted to eat, why I don’t know, but my wife and me.  We ate it until we were sick of it, and still had a bunch left.  It was put in the freezer for future use.

I happened to be home alone several months later.  That’s always dangerous in my case.  The ham looked good to me, and I decided to thaw it out, after which I cut a generous portion off for a huge Dagwood sandwich.

I was innocently munching away in quiet contentment when my wife came, sniffed the air and said, “Who died?”

I looked up puzzled as she looked down at me in horror.  She jerked the sandwich out of my hand and tossed it in the trash.  She then proceeded to do the Heimlich Maneuver on me to rid my body of the rest of it.

After the ordeal, I gathered my wits, what little I have of them, and said:  “My gosh, you saved my life.  What would you have done if you didn’t make it home in time to save me?”

“Gone shopping on the insurance money.”

She’s such a kidder.