"DON'T WASTE FOOD!" Moral imperative or fetish?
Sure, children are/were starving in Europe/Africa, but we can't send them our leftovers. Guilting people into consuming more than they want/need is unhealthy at a lot of levels. Repurposing leftovers into less tasty reheated dishes is not very Chowish/Maximum Deliciousness. Even at restaurants where food costs are vital, it makes no economic sense to spend $2 in labor to reduce food cost by $1. So can I say it proudly? "I am an American---I waste!'
Well, you can but back when I did live in Colorado, we were told to finish our lunches because starving children in Poland didn't have anything to eat.
Food waste seems more like a a thing with the instant gratification crowd.
Oh, but leftovers do maximize deliciousness often...in fact, the only way I really enjoy (and not just tolerate) Thanksgiving turkey is as leftovers, served with good mayor and celery in little avocado cups...moist and yummy.
To your OP...in my house growing up, it was less about "the poor children in XYZ" and more about showing courtesy and gratitude to what went into the meal. Dad worked hard to put food on the table and mom worked hard to prepare it. You ate what was on your plate and didn't whine. Likewise at Christmas...out of respect, you ate the small portion of linguine and eels that Aunt Palma prepared with the peppers she jarred, and you didn't yuck or run around screaming gross. 99% of the time, the food was delicious, and the company was even better.
Different times, different palates. I ate everything and was happy to eat/drink what I was offered (with the exception of the rarely offered soda if it was Moxie). It wasn't out of guilt or gluttony--children were served childsize portions. It was out of respect and a healthy appreciation for food...the growing, preserving, buying, and preparation of it.
"Repurposing leftovers into less tasty reheated dishes is not very Chowish/Maximum Deliciousness."
I absolutely disagree with that. Why does it have to be "less tasty"? I think repurposing dishes in creative ways is one of the essentials of Chowish behavior.
Last night I went to an Indian restaurant and brought home the leftover sauce from lamb rogan josh. Today I fried up an egg with the leftover sauce, and it was Maximum Deliciousness.
"Guilting people into consuming more than they want/need is unhealthy at a lot of levels."
I don't know what this has to do with food waste. You should eat until you're satisfied and you can finish the leftovers another time. If you don't want leftovers you can always overeat and skip a meal.
It's about going back for seconds or thirds if you decide you want more, as opposed to piling your plate sky high then deciding halfway through you don't want anymore.
And cooking enough for however many people you are serving and a day or two of leftovers.
A lot of work went into growing it, preparing it, and an animal died for it so you better appreciate it.
I grew up poor, if that means anything. And leftover lasagna is the best thing ever. And fried mashed potatoes.
No, I don't think one should brag about wasting things that are limited in availability, whether food, gasoline, whatever. We all do it but it is not a point of pride for me.
I do happen to love leftovers but if you don't, you're certainly not compelled to eat them. There are other ways to minimize waste - e.g. prepare or purchase less, give it away before it goes bad, etc.
Here is an interesting piece on the topic: http://wtop.com/1228/3491518/Gleaning...