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Doggie Bags


Kerry Beal
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Yup, if I'm going home or back to work. The countertop convection oven rocks at reheating and recrisping fried food,while pulling a good portion of the oil out of the crust.

Leftovers rarely die unloved at our house. I keep trying to remember to bring tupperware with me, so I dont need to use a styrofoam shell. Maybe one day it will be a habit.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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For several years, I lived alone, and frequently dined out alone. When we went in groups, we'd usually get an appetizer to share, a main course, and then a dessert to share. When I first began dining alone, I'd just get the main, but often even that would be too much to finish at one sitting, so I'd take half home. But I missed the "complete meal" experience. It occurred to me that I could just order whatever I damn well pleased, and take home whatever I didn't eat. So, I began ordering an appetizer, or even two, or a soup, or salad, or other starter, then the main, then the dessert, or basically whatever I wanted. But I always asked the server to bring the to-go boxes first, with the meal. Then I'd portion out whatever I didn't think I could (or should) eat at the restaurant into the boxes. They hadn't been eaten on yet, so they were still pristine and beautiful. I'd do this for all the courses. Most often, I'd eat for at least two or three days at home out of those to-go boxes - complete with starters, main, and dessert. I think it's an absolutely perfect way to order and eat whatever you'd like to try without spending way too much money and consuming way too many calories for only one meal. And, since you haven't eaten out of the food yet, it's still sanitary and fine to share with anyone else at home that might be interested in trying it.

And a "doggie bag" story...

Several years back, we were living in Tucson. My sister had a young au pair, Esther, from the Netherlands. The first time we all went out to dinner, taking Esther, we went for Mexican. It was wonderful, and Esther loved it. Of course, our portions were large so, at the end of the meal, we all asked for doggie bags. Esther had never heard of such a thing. So, although the translation was at times hilarious, we managed to explain to her the concept, and the source of the name "doggie bag." She was utterly horrified. She said nobody in Europe could even imagine hauling home leftover food from a restaurant meal, let alone actually do it. She said it made us look poor and desperate. She said she certainly was not going to do it. She said that, in fact, she was embarrassed and humiliated to even leave the restaurant with us carrying our doggie bags and boxes and, as we departed, we noticed she hung back from the group.

So the next day at lunchtime, I sliced up a couple of avocados and put some of my homemade salsa on the kitchen table and we all retrieved our boxes from the fridge. Esther said she'd just have a ham sandwich, so I made her one, and we all sat down. She ate her sandwich while the rest of us laughed and chatted over our leftover enchiladas, chile rellenos, carne guisada, etc.

Esther watched us eat, without comment.

But the next night, when we all went out for steaks, as we were finishing up our meals, Esther called the waiter over.

"Sir," she said, in her heavily accented English, "I would like the bag of the dog, please."

It had taken the previously "horrified" Esther exactly one outing to change her mind.

:cool:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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When I first began dining alone, I'd just get the main, but often even that would be too much to finish at one sitting, so I'd take half home. But I missed the "complete meal" experience. It occurred to me that I could just order whatever I damn well pleased, and take home whatever I didn't eat.

Exactly. With a date or friends you can share and try several dishes. Alone, it's harder without being either wasteful, gluttonous, or taking it home. Since I'm not rich, don't want to get any fatter, and an American who tries not to worry too much about what people think, I take it home.

So European kids were never entertained by having their leftover ravioli twisted up into an aluminum foil swan? :sad:

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A few years ago I went to visit my sister in Northern Scotland to tour around before she and her family returned home to Canada. They treated me to a fantastic restaurant of Indian Curry that was fantastic! We ordered quite a few dishes and we had a bit left of quite a few of the dishes. Apparently no one was paying attention when I just put a few of the dishes aside and when the waiter came I asked if he could put these couple of dished in something "to go"...The waiter gave me a look of horror! Sis says she would have warned me if she had noticed what I was doing.

My sister explained to me that around there and throughout Scotland they don't do doggy bags (but take aways thrive there, go figure). Sis explained that when her kids were younger they started traveling with a large purse with ziploc bags and cold packs to take away whatever food the kids didn't eat. The food we got from the Indian Curry Restaurant was just as delicious the next day and I did not regret embarrassing the family to get it.

I often order a meal at my favourite Manitoulin restaurant and separate a lunch portion off to the side. If I am not too hungry the lunch portion gets put in a to go container for lunch the next day.. The waiter/owner tells me that they always consider it a high compliment that the food was so good that you can't leave a morsel behind.

I agree with Kerry on the fried food though, I would never get that to eat the next day since it will never taste the same and the texture is usually too soft and greasy the next day.

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So I'm curious to know people's doggie bag habits - do you, don't you, always, sometimes? What are the determining factors for determining if you'll take the leftovers home or not?

Always, if there's anything left worth taking, that is. And if it can withstand an evening in a to-go container.

I paid for the food. It's mine. I'll take it with me and enjoy it for breakfast. There are starving people in my town, let alone in Biafra. I don't throw perfectly-good food away. Seems selfish. Especially if some animal died for my dinner. That seems a senseless waste to me.

That being said, I try to order so there aren't any doggie bags involved. But sometimes I am overwhelmed by portion size. So I eat the things that aren't going to keep well, and take the things that do.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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To answer Mjx I agree with others posted here, in England, or at least the bits I'm familiar with, there is generally no option to take excess food home at the end of a meal. I hadn't even considered such a request until a few years ago. One of my students had spent a year living and working in Chicago after graduating. On her return we invited her to eat out with us and we ended up at a local 'gastro-pub' where portion size was generous. Jackie enjoyed her meal but couldn't finish and so, for the first time, we were introduced to the idea of asking for a container for the remainder.

Staff were only too happy to oblige, packing the uneaten remnants into small plastic boxes that I guess they must have had to hand for kitchen storage. The boxes were good quality and we offered to return them but we were told there was no need. I think the staff were flattered that someone liked the food enough to want to take it home and we got excellent service for enlivening the evening. We were quite lively as I recall...

Since that time we have regularly taken food home from our local Indian restaurant, they provide a take out menu so have containers to hand, also we eat there often so we are known to the staff. I'll ask for take home bags in one or two more traditional restaurants where I'm known but I doubt I'd have the courage to ask on a first time visit to a place.

These small differences in culture between countries, or even regions of one country, make the world more interesting I think.

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Do most restaurants treat food left on the plate in the same fashion once it is back in the kitchen? What is that? Are there rules for health reasons or other reasons?

They throw it the bin. In my particular case, the leftovers all go to a pig farm in the city.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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As a teen, had a lovely dinner out with my parents for my birthday. Entree was 2 crabcakes and I could only eat one, so they offered to wrap it up. Unfortunately, I left the box on the table. Realizing my error as we got to the car, I went back to retrieve it and was dismayed to see the table had been cleared. The waiter told me to hang on for a moment, and he went back to the kitchen. It was more than a moment, and I was kind of feeling silly. Then he appeared bearing a container with a (piping hot) freshly prepared crabcake for me to take home!

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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I agree with Kerry on the fried food though, I would never get that to eat the next day since it will never taste the same and the texture is usually too soft and greasy the next day.

For me, the fried-food thing depends a lot on what it was, how good it was, and how expensive it was.

If it was really good, and especially if it was somewhat costly, I'll take it. A great many things crisp up just fine in a hot toaster oven.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Exactly. And I have never heard a waiter call it a doggie bag either. Usually they ask if we would like that wrapped up?

You know, now that you mention it, I haven't heard a waiter call it a doggie bag in a very long time, although that nomenclature used to be the norm. And I even remember actual bags being popular back in the days before styrofoam - little white paper sacks about the size of a lunch bag, often emblazoned with a cute cartoonish dog, or "Bowser" or "Fido," or something similar.

It seems to me that ages ago when this now-ubiquitous practice was just getting started, it was mainly really stuff for the dog - most-often bones from various cuts of steaks. After you had had your way with a T-bone, for example, you'd sit there and look at it, with its bits of meat hanging off, and you knew how much your dog would really love having a few hours alone with it.

Hard to resist the temptation to pack it up for your sweet canine buddy that you knew was waiting patiently for you at home.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you don't take it home, they're going to throw it out. What good is it to anyone in the garbage? You paid good money for it, so why be wasteful? A good steward of their resources don't waste them. (But there's no point in taking it home if it's not enough to at least be lunch for one - otherwise, THAT becomes wasteful because you're not going to eat it either way.) I'll happily take stuff home and I usually eat it the next day, heated up appropriately.

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