Post by Charles Seluzicki
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
It strikes me that the first day of February is a good day to write about leftovers. Not because I have leftovers in the fridge at the moment. But because my memories of Christmas leftovers are still so fresh. Only now am I able to talk about them.
The day after our Christmas evening feast, the fridge, the cooler and every available bit of counter space is crowded with pies, rolls, jars of nuts and bowls of fruit, fresh and dried. Mind you, folks were sent home with platters if they did not complain that they too were bulging at capacity.
The first order of business is always to strip the turkey carcass clean, roast the bones and make stock for the turkey vegetable soup. The situation with the ham is less urgent. Bean soup will beckon in five or six days. Still I know the drill. My adversity to waste confronts the spectre of multiple incarnations of the turkey: hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes employ the precious last of the gravy, turkey salad makes a dent in the extra celery and pickles, turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches nobly heed the call to waste not. And there is the matter of the turkey soup. But not unlike that haunting 70’s refrain “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” echoing through episodes of “The Brady Bunch,” I start hearing the words, “Turkey, turkey, turkey.” I grapple with the deeper implications of it all. Alfred North Whitehead famously said that the greatest philosophical problem was that we lived 80% of our lives in repetition. Surely there would be an entire chapter on leftovers if that book is ever written.
Some of the leftovers simply get away from me. A perfectly good dish is silently discarded. There was just too much of it and it has been around too long. Half of the smoked ham has been frozen. I’m not certain when I will be able to look at it again. The other half is demanding my attention. Bean soup is made before all of the turkey vegetable is gone. I simply want and need a change.
The memory of the ancestral dinner, the first cause of all leftovers, begins to fade as the leftovers take on a life of their own and spawn new variations. I forget my resolve. More and more my house is silent at lunch time. I am out and about, my nose stuck in menus far and wide: Indian, Ethiopian, Thai...