Marital fight over who gets to be the garbage disposal

I have no idea why, but Claus and I have a ridiculous, ongoing fight over who is the garbage disposal of the house. It’s a weird competition for martyrdom. The joke centers on the exact words, “garbage disposal.”

It’s not a fight, really. It’s just another running joke in our household, one of about a dozen. 

Whenever one of us is eating leftovers, we say with feigned burden, “I’ll finish it. I’ll just be the garbage disposal.” Followed by theatrical sigh. Then we both laugh. It’s absurd.

We’ve been saying this for years. We stopped to analyze it one day and realized we’ve been saying it for so long, we have forgotten the origin of it. 

“You didn’t like leftovers when we first started dating,” I accused. 

“I have always been OK with leftovers,” he defended. But I have my doubts. 

When he was a youth in Denmark, taking restaurant leftovers was incredibly embarrassing. Doggie bags carry a social stigma across most of Europe.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper has unwittingly added more fuel to the marital dispute. The host of public radio’s The Splendid Table talked to authors Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong about their new book, “Scraps, Wilt + Weeds,” which encourages “trash cooking” in order to reduce food waste. 

As Refslund and Wong define in the interview, “Trash cooking is cooking from things that we would normally throw away: heels of vegetables, stems of broccoli, coffee grounds, weeds… All these roots, stems, scales from fish, fish eyes, fish heads.” They deep-fry and eat fish scales like potato chips, or use coffee grounds in panacotta or dressing, for instance. 

Think this is weird? You may want to think again. Refslund is a chef and one of the initial partners at NOMA, the globally acclaimed Danish restaurant that Restaurant magazine rated “Best Restaurant in the World” for four years. 

(Side note: after being with Claus for 17 years, I can smell a Danish accent a mile away. I knew from just listening to Refslund that he was Danish.)

I love that the book is asking us to rethink our idea of what’s edible. People do what they do without thinking about why. It’s what we learned from our parents, it’s what our friends do, so it’s just the pattern than continues. I like the idea of deconstructing patterns and norms to see if there is a better way – not just for food, but for anything.

But let’s not get philosophical here. We came here to laugh today. 

I find it a little ironic that it’s a Dane who is upping the ante in our home. Thanks to Chef Refslund, I have a whole new arsenal of “garbage disposal” charges to level at my husband.