Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wisconsin 101: This is how we save food from being wasted

My friend Isabel and I went to see the ABBA tribute show. SH and I were supposed to go together, he somewhat grudgingly, mostly because we got two of the last three tickets available and they were not together. I had no idea Milwaukee was so crazy about ABBA that the show was almost sold out but then you never know.

But SH had to go out of town at the last minute and I invited Isabel to go with me instead and she was thrilled because WHO DOESN'T LOVE ABBA?


 So we got to the show and went our separate ways to our seats but not before Isabel had a three-minute happy conversation with lots of hugging with a friend she ran into working at the ticket booth. Isabel knows everyone in Milwaukee. Everyone. She used to work at a homeless shelter so now if you walk with her downtown, she talks to all the homeless guys she sees, asking them how they are doing by name and telling them to stay on the straight and narrow.

I am accustomed now to taking 22% longer for everything involving Isabel just because she knows everyone.

We got to our seats. I sat. I noticed that there was an awful lot of gray and white hair around. I noticed that Isabel and I were probably the only people in the audience not on social security. This was a lot like when SH and I went to the Englebert Humperdink concert, only I expected to find only older people there. But when did ABBA become a favorite of the Greatest Generation?

I spoke to the ladies next to me. Aha. ABBA became a favorite when it was included as part of the season subscription for this theater.

The show started. It was as cheesy as you might expect an ABBA show to be. The woman next to me kept falling asleep and would awake after each song was finished to clap.

The show ended. Isabel joined me. I told her about the sleeping woman. "That's better than the woman next to me," she said. "She must have poured an entire perfume bottle over her head."

That was worse. I think it should be illegal to wear perfume in public and I think heroin should be legal. So I really hate perfume.

Where was I? The entire point of this story is not about the concert but about what happened after the concert, which had to do with food and being the little old lady wrapping food in my hanky and stashing it in my purse.

So Isabel and I finally made it out of the auditorium and discovered there were tables full of snacks set up in the foyer. SH and I have been to many plays at this theater, but have never seen a post-show spread. There was strawberry shortcake, lemon bars, cheese and crackers, vegetables (really?! vegetables? when there is strawberry shortcake?), coffee, and biscotti.

The biscotti and coffee were on a table in the back. A table that remained empty and unvisited, unlike the front table with the shortcake. We ate a few bites of shortcake and of lemon bars, then made our way to behind the biscotti table, where two students stood, hands clasped in front, waiting for people to ask for coffee, which they were not doing, as almost all the audience had left. This is Wisconsin. Old people here do not stay up late. Unless they are singing at the karaoke bar at the VFW. I don't know how much crossover there is between the season ticket holders at the theater crowd and the VFW karaoke crowd.

"That's an awful lot of biscotti," I said. "And almost everyone is gone. What are they going to do with the leftovers?"

"I don't know," Isabel admitted.

"Do you think they would let us take some?"

Note. I can bake biscotti. I can buy biscotti. But I will almost never bake sweets unless it is something I know SH will eat and will eat most of, because I do not need the temptation. I have a two-pound jar of Nutella that my sister gave me at her wedding and another two-pound jar of Nutella that my mom gave me years ago. They are both unopened. I did open the artisanal high-end hazelnut chocolate past that Kim and Luke sent me because it was small. But once I open a container, it is open season on it, even if it is in the basement, and I will eat and eat until the whole thing is gone and I can't fit into anything in my closet any more.

But - if I save a few biscotti from the trash (OK - full disclosure - I knew full well that those students would take the leftovers. I was a student waiter at the faculty club in college and we did not ever let food go to waste. The food they served in the dorms was awful and I never missed a chance to eat a decent meal. Things have changed in colleges - now, they have fancy workout centers and good food, but back in the day, they had crummy food and we had to pay for it even if we didn't want to eat it.) then that would be a noble thing.


"Watch this," Isabel said.

She sauntered over to the coffee/biscotti table. Asked for a cappuccino. I would have loved to have had one as well, but my princess and the pea body cannot take caffeine that late at night, even the little caffeine in decaf.

Isabel is Puerto Rican. Caffeine flows in her veins.

She drank the coffee. "What's your major?" she asked student #1.

And thus commenced the conversation in which we discovered he was majoring in English and his grandparents were Irish and Native American and African American and there was a street in his hometown named after his great grandfather but he wasn't sure why and he was the descendant of slaves and of Chinese who had gone to Cuba and he had all this great backstory and he didn't even know the details, which prompted me to suggest that he take a tape recorder to his grandparents and get all the story from them before they died because that would be enough material for his books for the rest of his life.

The poor girl next to him was a theater major and I wanted to shake her shoulders and ask, "Have you thought about how you are going to earn a living?" But I didn't because that would have been rude and besides, maybe she has rich parents and a trust fund and if you have a trust fund, why not major in theater?

All along, I was munching on a biscotti and eying the remaining cookies.

We discovered it was student #1's birthday. "Are you going to celebrate with the leftover biscotti?" Isabel asked.

He looked surprised, then said no, he was not.

"Do you mind if we take some?" she asked.

No, he did not.

"Do you mind if I give you a hug for your birthday?" she asked.

"Are you a hugger?" he replied.

She opened her arms. "Yes I am!"

She enveloped him in a birthday hug. I wrapped a handful of biscotti in a napkin.

We wished the students well and walked out.*

"And that," Isabel said triumphantly, "is how it's done."

* With our biscotti. Which SH did not want so now I have to eat because I could never throw food away.


Artsy in Boulder said...

Was the ABBA tribute band "Arrival from Sweden"? TAH and I go to see them every time they swing through Colorado. You haven't lived till you've seen Arrival at Red Rocks Amphitheater (take THAT, U2!), which is nestled in the foothills west of Denver. We are clearly always up for a good time here in Colorado, so it's great to see all the ABBAphiles dressed in their funkiest 70s gear and getting' down under the stars (the ones in the sky, not onstage). The last time Arrival arrived, however, they played the Boulder Theater. I had great hopes for the evening when, out front, I saw an ancient minivan whose sides were painted with ABBA-related motifs (not quite Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but these fans meant business). I was fully expecting that we here in The People's Republic would have taken things up a notch and actually rented super-outrageous (think HR Puffinstuff) disco-era costumes and packed the house to the rafters. Shockingly, the theater was only about a quarter to a third full (versus packed Red Rocks, which is, like, 5 or 10 times the size). The only explanation I can think of is that at Red Rocks, concertgoers can get stuff like nachos with fluorescent cheese; perhaps Denverites were afraid that if they came to Boulder, they would be forced to eat veggie sticks with hummus at the concession stand.

webb said...

You are such an environmentalist! We appreciate your sacrifice.

Class factotum said...

Artsy - I wish it had been that group! Nope, ours was from Branson and they were singing the songs their own way and telling us about their lives. I am not really interested in their lives - I wanted ABBA music sung ABBA style. I think they wanted to be recognized as artists on their own, but I wanted them to pretend to be someone else.