The History Of Our Love-Hate-Love Relationship With Leftovers
As Historian Helen Zoe Veit tells All Things Considered, Americans’ enthusiasm for leftovers really started during World War I, with people hearing about starving kids in Europe. Then, in the Great Depression, reusing food because a necessity.
“That was really a time when leftovers were held up as a special culinary category for the first time,” says Veit. “For one thing, it’s something you had to do to stay within the family budget, but also as something that could be a realm for art and creativity â€” that clever housewives could use to show off their skills, in a sense.â€
The “Golden Age of Leftovers,” according to Veit, were the 1940s and 50s. Some highlights: ham banana rolls with cheese sauce, leftover carrots pureed and then shaped back into carrots, which were an “amazing example of leftovers elevated to art,” Veit says.
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