Leftovers are best enjoyed alone

Verity Lush is a 38-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth.

Tuesday, 12th January 2016, 6:00 am

Before Christmas, I met with two of my oldest friends for lunch in Winchester. Louise, Ruth and I have known one another since our school days.

When you consider that one of us is a London-based architect and has had four babies, one of us is a teaching member of senior leadership in Oxford, and I’m in Portsmouth juggling a demanding teaching post with two kids and a column, we don’t do badly on the contact front.

Inevitably, given the lunching nature of the catch-up, we began discussing festive food and, in particular, leftovers.

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Part of the Christmas tradition is leftovers, but, ask yourself, would you want to eat somebody else’s?

As Louise wryly observed, above the rim of a glass of vino, leftovers are a private pleasure. Such wise words.

The concept of munching somebody else’s bubble and squeak is simply unappealing. The idea of somebody’s leftover roasties being mushed up with their leftover veg and reheated? No!

I’m unsure as to why this is, but leftovers are definitely best enjoyed by one’s self and one’s family. I remember one year visiting a relative on Boxing Day, and being confronted with a plate of soggy bubble and squeak with baked beans next to it.

Firstly, this is not my choice of side dish – even the words bean juice (shudder), let alone the sensory experience of it tainting other foods on my plate and getting steadily colder, makes my gag reflex tingle.

Secondly, the idea of eating bits of food that have previously been cooked, not stored by myself, and being, essentially, the unwanted parts of a someone’s previous meal, sets my teeth on edge.

Obviously this is crackers, akin to when you accidentally touch a leftover bit of spongy food in the sink when washing up (CRINGE). You know there’s nothing wrong with the food, if it were in your own house you’d be happy to eat it, but when it’s somebody else’s, it loses appeal.

I make various meals with leftovers myself. Whatever meat is left from the Sunday roast goes in the slow cooker, for either a curry or a stew, in order to be economical with both money and time. But could I serve that to friends when they come for dinner? No.

Yet I am happy, in fact I positively relish, spending the evenings between 24 and 30 December eating little besides leftovers. They are indeed, for me at least, a private pleasure. Good call, Ms Etherington.

Verity Lush is a 38-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth.

She is a tutor in philosophy, English and maths and has written a book for newly-qualified teachers, plus textbooks and articles for teaching magazines and supplements.