Note to self: “Lentils: enough, already”

Lentils, enough alreadyI was raised by women who were adult during WWII (and during WWI, one of them) and that has coloured my attitude to waste and recycling ever since. Their proverbial admonitions still ring in my ears: “Think of the Poor Poles” “Think of the Starving Russians” “Waste not, want not”. These phrases were contextless two or three decades after Stalingrad and the Warsaw Ghetto, and were never updated to “Think of the poor Biafrans” or “the Starving Sudanese”. But it is drilled deep in my bones that wasting food is ill-mannered at best, and wickedly profligate at worst.

So I want you to appreciate the trauma of spending the last two hours clearing out my kitchen cupboard. Why is it so hard to accept that I never will eat the fruit preserved in Brandy given to me for Christmas five years ago? I know and you know that the best and kindest thing to do is get rid of it. And the five packets of flavoured teas which are not only too disgusting to drink, but too stale to give away. And the packet of rice noodles I bought two years ago and never finished. (I lived off rice noodles for most of the summer of 2005, but suddenly one day I’d eaten enough of them and the remaining half-packet has been perking up hopefully every time I open my kitchen cupboard and then sagging back, disappointed and scorned, when I shut the door on it again. Well no more.) Oh god the guilt. I am throwing perfectly good food away.

The problem is not only that I under-utilise; I also over-stock. I have two packets of half opened and half used muscovado sugar. Now in what possible circumstances am I going to use a couple of pounds of muscovado sugar? It doesn’t make good crumble. I suppose I could mix it with the two packets of white sugar and a the pound or so in a jar with a vanilla pod, and turn the lot into rum. The last lot of sugar I kept with a vanilla pod was in there for half a dozen years at least. I do not need any more sugar.

Couscous? When will I remember, standing in Tescos, that I don’t actually like couscous that much? Or that one packet of Quinoa goes a very very long way. Sesame seeds. Why did I buy so many sesame seeds? And as for lentils: I have red split lentils, two kinds of yellow lentils, two kinds of brown lentils and two packets of Moth Beans which are “like lentils”. Oh, and three tins of the things in case I don’t want to do all that unpleasant boiling.

Note to self: “Lentils: enough, already”.

Probably best not to get downwind of me for a while, then.

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14 responses to “Note to self: “Lentils: enough, already”

  1. Does anyone really like couscous?

  2. I do, occasionally.

    When they’re cooked by my daughter and served with one of her delicious veggie dishes.

  3. >wasting food is ill-mannered at best
    I can’t trace my reason for agreeing back to anything as specifically as you did here, but nevertheless I agree. And we live our family life as much as we can by that credo.

    To the extent that leftovers slide down this ladder of 2nd day (or frozen for later easy dinner making), if there’s more then used as part for something else if we can – and at the bottom steps of the rung is the dog, where applicable, and the compost thingy.

    Some topic drift: Speaking of the Poor Poles, in my childhood it was generally the Africans, in fact. It’s interesting, T think, to see how this maxim is changing content: From “eat your dinner, there’s a lot of poor Africans hwo’d love to have your food” to “do your homework, there’s a lot of Indians who’d like your job!” …

    Oh, and we don’t really do couscous at home for whatever reason but for the record, I think it’s fine.

  4. Those poor rice noodles…I hope they find a good home.

  5. I have a canister of the worst tasting couscous in the world that still sits in my cupboard even though I know no one will ever eat it. I feel your pain.

  6. It’s wholemeal pasta for me, especially spaghetti.

    On moving house recently there seemed to be packets of the stuff in pretty much any cupboard I’d care to open.

    Yet, even knowing this, I still was seduced by some Italian brand I’d never seen before, yesterday.

    Ho hum!

  7. What is it about lentils?
    I have half a cupboard full of steadily ageing pulses. At least their shelf life is a decent length.

    Does anyone else have a freezer full of wee bags of indeterminate matter?

  8. Well, there’s nothing to actually dislike with couscous, is there Archie? But conversely I guess nothing much to like either. It’s all in the context really.

    You are right dragonqueen, couscous is really only good when cooked by a vegetarian. I do like it as a stuffing for peppers or mushrooms, for example, or a really good salad.

    Santra, is it wrong of me to be amused that your dog has such a functional role in your household, easing green-guilt? And the comment about homework and jobs made me laugh.

    Paddy, cover your eyes now. You see…. I threw the rice noodles away.

    It is strange the hypnotic power that dumb things have over us, isn’t it, Courtney?

    TheShrink. Been there. Done that. Not wholemeal pasta, but I so nearly bought a packet of red, green and yellow corn pasta shells yesterday simply because of the colours, which fade when you cook it anyway. I was proud of myself when I didn’t!

    Teuchter. What worries me is that I bought half a dozen freezer containers yesterday and filled them with spinach soup, squash soup and rattituille. At least they won’t go mouldy and reproach me later in the week. Oh no. They’ll go grey and reproach me for the next three years.

    Thanks, all, for reading and commenting.

  9. Thank god. Now I don’t have to suffer my secret lentil shame alone.

    This morning, I begin the process of weeding through my stuff in preparation for a trans-Atlantic move. I am a hoarder. Not quite clinical, but getting on for. I’m aiming for a February finish. I hope that isn’t optimistic.

  10. Oh! And in the Weasel household, it was “the starving children of Armenia.” My great grandmother was a religious nutter. They never had a proper Christmas, because everything the family could spare went to the aforementioned starving children. My grandfather grew up with an abiding hatred of Armenia. His aunt gave him a pocket knife one Christmas, and he was so grateful he swore to take care of her for life. Which he did, although she was a poor choice of auntie in this regard, as she lived to be 102 and very nearly outlasted him.

    I was startled, as an adult, to meet persons of Armenian extraction. I guess I had thought of Armenia as a make believe place, like Oz or Disneyland. They looked tolerably well nourished to me.

    There! Sorry. Better out than in.

  11. I’m sucker for those BOGOF offers (buy one, get one free). Most of the time I think that one of the items on its own would be quite expensive but, obviously, it’s a bargain at half price – then nine times out of ten give away my “free” item. I’ve just done it witha BOGOF melon from Tesco, giving one of them to my sister. Supermarkets see me coming and immediately pile up the BOGOF items at the door!

  12. I’m another lentil hoarder! My excuse is that I once lived on The Palouse, the area in north Idaho/east Washington where most of the world’s lentils are grown. I bought a cookbook from the Pea and Lentil Society and, well, you know the rest. :/

  13. Have wanged a creative blogger award your way. Check 10th August post

  14. I’m finally catching up on my blog reading — and will eventually even finish the interview questions you sent. Sigh!

    Anyway, I have the same problem throwing out food. It feels so terribly wasteful, even when I know that neither I, nor anyone else, will (or in some cases even could!) ever eat it.

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