On this Valentine’s Day my husband wants me to share with you the fact that he is disappointed.
By certain long-standing habits of mine that I refuse to modify.
- One recent morning he came downstairs for breakfast and reached into the refrigerator for blueberries to eat atop his cereal. (as do I.) What he found were two plastic containers of blueberries, side-by-side. One contained six or seven forlorn, slightly shriveled old blueberries. The other box was brand new – full of fresh, plump berries.
It was also clear, so he told me that evening (he has an amateur sleuth badge from our mutual habit of watching far too many BBC detective shows) that a person he knows all too well had obviously opened up the new box of berries without taking the time to finish what was left of the old berries. Which is – according to him – a sad commentary on the differences that remain between us even after almost 39 years of marriage.
That I would brashly dig into the sweetest of berries, because I knew I could leave it to him to polish off the older sad-looking berries.
And wouldn’t you do the same?
Given all of life’s difficulties (have you been watching the national news lately?), isn’t it reasonable, when presented with the choice, to go with the most tempting option?
I mean, I’m thrifty when I have to be – but when I don’t have to be, I do like to eat the freshest food first.
- On a related note, he also likes to point out to anyone who will listen that I possess all of the necessary qualifications for immediate hire by whatever division it is of the U.S.Department of Agriculture in charge of putting sell-by dates on food. Because he believes (wrongly) that a person can confidently and safely consume food that is well past said sell-by date.
He quibbles with my predilection to toss out food that shows even the most recent of expired dates. We have – and I’m not proud of this – argued at length about what “sell by” means versus “use by.”
But don’t you also want to stay healthy?
I try to reason with him by explaining that if I were to eat very old food I could end up in the hospital – again. (a place I do not want to re-visit having spent far too long there in 2012). If I were to become ill because of eating spoiled food, my husband would have to visit me in the hospital and that would cost him both time ( I can’t miss that much work!) and money (do you believe how expensive this hospital parking garage is?)
So I am only trying to be helpful by eating the freshest of food.
Unlike my husband who truly does love old food. And I don’t say this snidely. In all seriousness, he prefers to eat leftovers. Previously cooked food that resides inside little plastic containers inside our refrigerator for days, even for weeks, tastes good to him.
And if the most ancient of leftovers have a slightly blue tinge, all the better. (“it’s fine, it’s just like blue cheese. you like Roquefort cheese, don’t you?” he will say in his defense as he chomps down.)
Am I spoiled because I like to eat fresh food, prefer not to eat leftovers – and have a somewhat tightly wound approach to tossing out foods immediately after their use-by date? Perhaps so.
If he were a writer – he would want to edit this post – to tell you that his preference for older (a polite way of putting it) food comes to him by how he was raised. He is the child of immigrants who came to this country in the early 1950’s and worked extraordinarily hard in their factory jobs to raise a family who knew how important it was not to let any food go to waste.
I am a few generations removed from the immigrant experience and maybe that is why I am less thrifty about food than I should be. While my stay-at-home mom was hardly extravagant with her supermarket food purchases, leftovers do not feature as large a role in my childhood memories as they do in my husband’s.
On this Valentine’s Day we consider ourselves lucky that we can share a laugh about a few old berries. Because last year was a very rocky one for us as parents. Life events tested our differing perspectives on far more serious concerns than the shelf stability of food.
It’s very important to laugh about left-overs. I highly recommend it to everyone, parents or not, l-o-n-g marrieds or not. Finding the funny in blue-tinged food can get you through the toughest of times.