Ew! Leftovers!


At my last job when I worked in an office, I had a cube neighbor I called Pointy Faced Cube Neighbor. Not to her face, are you kidding? I’m not THAT evil.  I referred to her by that name when I bitched talked about her on Twitter.  She would show up in the office maybe twice a week, surf the web for a few hours, then complain about her kid's school/church/social function that she had to take part in, and leave early. The rest of us in the office made so much fun of her work ethic, but deep down we were all supremely jealous because none of us could get away with that crap with our respective bosses.

We liked her much more on the days she would work from home (and nap all day, as she once confessed to me), because if she was in the office and not surfing the web, she would clip and file her nails, get on the phone to complain to various utility companies about various bills, and generally  be an annoying distraction.  The only time she wasn’t annoying was when we’d talk about food.  She could converse about wine and stinky cheese like nobody’s business – and I’m all about that. I found myself liking her – but only during those few conversations.  The rest of the time she was annoying as all get out.

One day at lunch I had reheated some leftovers from the night before and brought them back to my desk. She sniffed appreciatively.  “What’s for lunch today?”, she said, to which I replied, “Leftovers from last night…” and before I could continue, I saw her face as she recoiled in disgust. “Ew”, she said haughtily, “We don’t do leftovers in my house”.   “Oh”, was all I could say. Later on I thought of good retorts, but at that moment, I was blank. And speechless. Who does that? Who says that about other people’s food they're about to eat?

Actually having said that, I had two other instances in that same office with two different people who said tacky things about my food.  One time I was heating up some stewed lentils in the office microwave, and a girl walking by told me my food looked, and I quote, “Nasty”.  Another time, our office manager stopped me from peeling a blood orange because she thought the orange was rotten. When I explained it was a blood orange and it’s supposed to look that way, she said, “Why would you want to eat something called a blood orange? That’s disgusting”.  Maybe it was something in the drinking water in that building? who knows. The place was rife with bad-mannered people.

So what’s not to love about leftovers? Some food tastes much better the next day, after the flavors have melded and done their magic.  Lasagna, Bolognese sauce, stews of any kind, all these are friggin’ miraculously delicious the next day. And who can resist the temptation of a cold slice of pizza, eaten while standing in front of the refrigerator with the door wide open while staring into it? Years ago when I was at my uncle Jimmy’s funeral in Miami, I had a discussion with a bunch of long lost relatives from Mississippi and Alabama about our mutual love of cold pizza and cold spaghetti.  It was interesting that it took a funeral for us to discover that about ourselves and each other.  That was also the time when two of my great aunts introduced me to the wonderfulness of a fried green tomato.  “Here, child, go fetch me that containah of bacon fat out of your Grandmothah’s freezah”. Um, WHAT? YOU FREEZE BACON FAT??  But after one bite, never again will I doubt a Southern cook. Never.

Maybe some people walk the walk and talk the talk, and just can’t cook; maybe this was Pointy Faced Cube Neighbor’s problem.  I don’t recall her ever talking about actually cooking a meal; we mostly talked about restaurants and certain chefs, and memorable meals.  For all I know, she hated leftovers because her cooking sucked, so naturally anything left over the next day would suck even more – I’m only speculating here, I never actually got to the root of her problem.  I should have asked her on the spot, when she got all arrogant with me about my Ew Lunch; but I was so irritated by her that I turned my back and ate my leftovers lunch with as much gusto and sound effects as I possibly could.  Tactful, I know. I’m good like that.

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