Day 23: Use leftovers to make new products

Day 23

Cape of Good Hope, do they call ye?

When I was a student, I never liked leftovers. If I made dinner, I ate everything, even though I was full before I got halfway. To save some of it, keep it in the fridge till tomorrow? Nah. Better to eat too much today and too little tomorrow.

But sometimes I did make too much. Half a kilo of pasta, for instance, occasionally turned out to be too much even for me. Sometimes, I would sit at my kitchen table reading a book and automatically put food in my mouth, almost unaware of the fact that I was eating, until my stomach suddenly felt bloated. Stop this nonsense, it would scream, you’ve eaten too much already, I don’t want no more! But I’ve still got some pasta left, I protested, please, I need this energy to play basketball later, please, please, I don’t want to save it the fridge, you know that. The lady doth protest too much, methinks, my stomach replied and went silent apart from a dull pain.

I often threw away the leftovers. Why, I don’t know. Perhaps I was afraid that the other students I shared the kitchen with would dislike having a bowl of spaghetti occupying too much space in our, their, fridge.

I didn’t like to throw it away, though, it felt wrong, and it often meant that I had to buy some more pasta the day after. So I came up with an elegant solution. The problem was that I cooked too much pasta, right?

Very well, then the solution must be not to cook my pasta. I’ll eat it raw.

It didn’t taste very well. Or rather, it didn’t taste very much, it just gave my stomach something to work with when I couldn’t even be bothered to make myself a sandwich. And after a while, I started to enjoy it: I had to chew it, unlike most other ready-made food, it was never a challenge to clean up afterwards, it was easy to carry around even in my pocket — and I never ever had a problem with leftovers.  There were no leftovers, as I hadn’t prepared anything.

There were warnings, of course. Don’t eat uncooked pasta, people said, your appendix will burst and you’ll die a horrible death. For many years I didn’t listen to them. And then my appendix burst.

I stayed at the hospital for several days, and then I stayed at home for several weeks, getting my strength back. If the first doctor had believed me, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But he just sent me back home, and I spent many painful hours in my flat before I called a doctor again — and by then, things had gotten quite serious.

During those days, I made a vow. Spurred on by mother and father and all the rest of the family, I promised myself to do one thing in order to never have this kind of pain again.

I would stop eating uncooked pasta.

It didn’t dawn on me until many years later that if my appendix already was gone, it wouldn’t do much harm to continue eating pasta as before. (I was still young and inexperienced in life, I suppose.) And it didn’t occur to me until recently to check out whether uncooked pasta really can lead to appendicitis; even when my entire family is of one opinion and speaks with one voice, thar opinion might be wrong, and that voice might not be telling the truth.

It turns out, if I am to trust answers on online forums, that uncooked pasta really isn’t that bad for you. It might look a bit strange to some, to gnaw raw spaghetti, but it’s not dangerous.

In other words, I can stop worrying about leftovers again. I can start eating uncooked pasta for dinner. Except for one thing.

I’ve got a family now. Two, soon three children. And you never know what they will eat, or how much they will eat, when they sit down at the dinner table. Sometimes literally just a spoonful. Sometimes they eat all their food and the start digging into mine. And I’ve got a wife who will veto any attempt to serve them nothing but uncooked pasta for dinner.

In other words, there will always be some leftovers in the fridge. At the moment, we have 5 small potatoes, one box with pasta, one box with pasta and sauce, and some corn.

For dinner today, I’ll take all this, put some cheese on top and put it in the oven for ten minutes, or twenty, or something.

And lo and behold, I have used leftovers to make a new product: from pasta to pasta with cheese on top.

And if the boys for some reason just want to eat uncooked pasta, I’ll tell them that they can’t, it’s dangerous, their appendix will burst.

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