2011.04.27 The gift of the Magi is broccoli rice casserole

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I came home for dinner late Monday night to the delightful discovery that David hadn’t finished off the strawberry shortcake I’d made on Easter Sunday. I’d had some for breakfast and figured he’d eat the rest for lunch. 

The “shortcake” was my usual biscuit recipe, but made with spelt flour in deference to David. Wheat, it appears, is not a friend of his intestines. Spelt flour is a great substitute, but we’re always running out of it. So, when I make something with spelt, I try to exercise restraint and let David eat the lion’s share.

Exercising restraint is not my strong suit, but when I came home for lunch Monday after David had already eaten and noticed that he hadn’t touched the shortcake biscuits, I passed them up figuring he would polish them off with his dinner. 

So, just imagine my surprise when I found half a bunny and one whole heart biscuit and just enough strawberries to complete the dessert. (Spelt for David, but the bunny and heart-shaped biscuits for Maddie.)

I could have called him just to make sure he left them for me, but they had the hallmarks of classic sharing of small quantities of food at our house—he’d obviously eaten some of what had been there (the bottom half of the bunny and a couple of hearts) leaving some behind. 

Usually, the food sharing scenario goes like this: he saves the broccoli and cheese casserole leftovers for me even though he really wants to eat it, and then I leave them for him because I know he likes it more than I do. So neither of us eats it and then it just ends up rotting.

It’s sort of like that old O. Henry “The Gift of the Magi” story in which a poor couple, Della and James, buy thoughtful Christmas presents for each other. Here’s the plot from Wikipedia.

Young married couple Della and James "Jim" Dillingham Young are very much in love with each other but can barely afford their one-room apartment due to their very bad economic situation. For Christmas, Della decides to buy Jim a chain for his prized pocket watch given to him by his father's father. To raise the funds, she has her long, beautiful hair cut off and sold to make a wig. Meanwhile, Jim decides to sell his watch to buy Della a beautiful set of combs made out of tortoiseshell and jewels for her lovely, knee-length brown hair. Although each is disappointed to find the gift they chose rendered useless, each is pleased with the gift that they received, because it represents their love for one another.

OK, it’s not really like “The Gift of the Magi.” It’s more like “The Gift Gone Wrong” and instead of us being happy, we just wallow in the guilt and resentment of wasted food. As we look at the dish of congealed rice and broccoli on garbage night, our conversation goes like this.

“How come you didn’t eat it?” I accuse.

“I was saving it for you,” David says. “You made it so you should have the last serving.” 

“But you like it more, so you should eat it,” I respond.

This happens often enough that you’d think we would have figured out a system. But, we’re rarely home at the same time for lunch and dinner and we’re both so busy that we just have to make snap decisions on food choices. 

OK, I admit it, sometimes when I really want to eat something, but the loving thing to do is save it for David, I have been known to eat it anyway. And, not only eat it, but claim that I ate it so it wouldn’t rot. Della would never do anything like that.

David’s strategy Monday night?

“I ate half of everything because I didn’t know,” he said.

I should adopt that strategy too. It sure would minimize the amount of rotting food we throw away on garbage night. Della and James might even approve.

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