After reading Elizabeth Large's blog post about doggie bags today, I thought I'd make my own post on the subject.
I don't understand why some people are embarrassed to take their leftovers home. Why? They are paid for and would otherwise be thrown away. I think that's very wasteful.
Now, if all you leave behind is three french fries and some discarded iceberg lettuce from your burger, ok. But if you have a pile of fries left - take them home! They make great home fries. I chop them up and put them in a sauté pan with some chopped onion. The fries are greasy, so there's really no need to add additional oil. I add spices (cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, nigella seeds) and sometimes sesame seeds, and cook on low heat until everything gets dark and crispy. Much better than the usually-lousy hash browns one gets in a restaurant (or "hash whites" as my Dad referred to them after a recent Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's).
There's always extra Chinese food to be brought home, particularly when we order enough to feed an army. We've even brought home extra dim sum dumplings. After a couple of days in the fridge, everything gets plopped into the same pan to create a new dish - General Tso's Hunan lamb, perhaps - and our rice cooker is employed for the starch.
A trip to the diner offers lots of leftover possibilities. After one eats the salad or soup and two veg, how is there room for that strip steak and the stuffed shrimp? There isn't, so the protein often ends up in a styrofoam box, to be turned into a salad topping or pasta sauce ingredient later in the week.
I think the biggest leftover haul I was ever responsible for happened in Orlando, after dinner at Emeril's. I wanted to try *everything* on that menu - appetizer, soup, salad, entree, AND dessert. (Once upon a time, I was a HUGE Emeril fan, but that's a whole other story.) So my friend LaRaine and I did. This was 9 years ago now, but I do remember us ordering the calamari with olive salad and one other appetizer, the three nut-crusted goat cheese salad with Andouille sausage dressing, the tomato stacked salad, a bowl each of turtle soup and gumbo, the "study of duck" that had foie gras, duck breast, and confit, and half a roast chicken with southern cooked greens. We ate the salads and soups and a couple of bites of the appetizers and entrees and took the rest to our condo. One day we warmed up some food for lunch, and another day had the leftovers for dinner. I put the confit in the freezer to take to my then-fiancé, Mr Minx, who I know loved duck and had never tasted confit. We packed it in a cooler full of ice for the two-day drive home, and I'm happy to say it survived the trip and another few days in our home freezer before I could get it to my sweetie.
So what do you do with your leftover restaurant food?
Some of the best meals I've ever eaten were a result of your "doggie bags." I specifically remember the Mexican/Chinese leftovers we took to a ballgame, and the crab pasta made with the leftovers from Andree's graduation party/crab feast. NOT taking home the leftovers seems sinful to me. Like throwing away a book. You just don't DO that!
I'm with you -- half a dozen French fries, a few green beans, or even a bite or two of meat can be left behind. Anything more needs to go home. And given the large portions served at so many restaurants these days, I sometimes get two full meals out of a single entree. Why waste it?
Just last week I went to Maggiano's with some friends (their choice) and had a half-order of gnocchi . . . it was enough to feed me a huge dinner and lunch the next day (I have to admit that I boringly just packed it up as was for lunch, nothing creative).
But yeah, I always take home food if there is enough to warrant it, and usually it gets turned into something else entirely or used as a snack.
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