2007-10-11 / Sam Bari

You can't beat a system you can't understand

Leftovers and other old food
By Sam Bari

How many times have you heard or even said, "It'll taste even better tomorrow?" That tired old cliché has been used to describe everything from chili to spaghetti sauce. And we have all been guilty of, shall we say, obsessing about a healthy portion of last night's meatloaf - to the point we were actually disappointed that we weren't brown baggers. After thinking about the meatloaf all morning, bringing lunch to work began to make good sense.

Now, I know there is not a person out there who hasn't had a craving for, and indulged in, last night's cold, dried out, rubbery pizza. When it's still on the coffee table, in front of the TV, the following morning, it is just oh so chewy and good. Don't lie. 'Fess up. You know you've done it. You have gnawed your way through more than one piece for breakfast. We all have. We are Americans. That is what we do.

I am surprised a pizza test isn't included in the immigration examination for people wishing to migrate to this country. Learn the laws, learn the language, and eat a minimum of two slices of day-old pizza. If you can't do that, you don't deserve to live here.

You gotta be made of the right stuff to be an American, and nasty old, cold pizza has been a Saturday morning ritual since the founding of Friday night. It is a by-product of frat parties, football games, and beer. And those are American traditions that must be upheld. It's in the Constitution. Or it should be. So, join the rest of us, and eat it and love it.

Let's face it folks, we are a country obsessed with eating leftovers. If the space guys are out there watching us, they have got to be thinking, "What is wrong with those earthlings, particularly the Americans? They have fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat available for the asking, and they prefer to eat old food that has been overcooked, stuck in cans, or frozen, packaged and reheated. What is wrong with those people?"

Ladies and gentlemen, the space guys don't let their presence be known because they think we're defective and they are afraid of us. They suspect we are possibly rejects from planets where sane people live. The space guys think we like to eat old food because our sense of logic is somewhat askew, and they could very well be correct. As far as they are concerned, anyone who actually prefers old, re-cooked food to a fresh meal could snap at the slightest provocation. They want nothing to do with us. And I have proof of my convictions.

We are not only obsessed with eating leftovers - we are not willing to admit it. Gargantuan food companies that specialize in packaging old, cooked food, and selling it to us as "fresh out of the oven" have made fortunes. They know it's old, and we know it's old, but it's in a nice new package, so we buy it as new food and eat it. Does that make sense?

Notice - they never say "fresh," and stop there. They say "fresh out of the oven" because they know they are selling old cooked food that needs to be reheated in the oven. It was designed that way. It's not even close to fresh. The contents haven't been fresh for weeks, possibly months, or even longer. Especially the stuff they sell in cans.

It's time we faced the truth, people. When we purchase packaged, precooked food, whether it be frozen or canned, we are buying leftovers. And these are not even true leftovers. Our crack research department, the Googlamaniacs, went to great lengths to complete a comprehensive study on the origin of leftovers. They spent nanoseconds completing this formidable task.

They researched Bari's law and discovered that true leftovers came from a time in my grandmother's day before there was such a thing as frozen food. To be a true leftover, Grandma Bari said that food had to be prepared from fresh ingredients, put in the refrigerator and eaten within two days. If it was older than that, the food was no longer called a leftover, it was called garbage.

Also, the distinguishing factor between a true leftover and disgusting, old food is that leftovers must taste good right out of the refrigerator. Try thawing out your average frozen dinner and eating it without reheating it in the oven and you'll understand the difference.

The packaged food industry is selling us old, precooked food that grandma would have discarded without giving it a second thought. In her eyes, using perfectly good money to purchase precooked garbage wrapped in a nice new package and reheating it is part of that system we just can't understand.

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