Food of Dubious Origins

Food is my one true love, and I am accepting of all its forms, whether it be moldy, partially consumed by a stranger, or, as the title suggests, of dubious origins. My friends have referred to me as ‘the garbage disposal’; ‘trash compactor’; and ‘a relentless, insatiable, gaping maw that demands constant sacrifice’. When I go out to dinner in a group, I don’t order anything; instead, I salivate as my friends scarf their foodstuffs in hurried discomfort. But they are weak and their portions large, and they always end up leaving their delicious (and completely free) scraps as offerings for my all-controlling stomach of steel.

Heavier than a falling anvil! More elastic than a drawstring laundry bag!

Nothing fazes my mithril-lined esophagus. I rip the mold off cheese with my teeth, then swallow it; I put brown bananas into my smoothies, then drink them; and if meat smells rotten, I just wash it off until the offending odor is masked, and if that’s not enough, I simply stop inhaling through my nose.

I inherited these traits from my father, whose circus-strength stomach allows him to digest anything soluble in stomach acid, no matter how expired. As a bargain hunter, nothing brings him more joy than the reduced-for-quick-sale section at the supermarket. The fewer hours of shelf life a store item has left, the cheaper it is, so he treks to the grocery store minutes before closing time, scoring discolored meat and wilted spinach for a fraction of the original price.

As his offspring, I was constantly subjected to these expired triumphs, and rarely experienced a dinner untouched by the twin seasonings of freezer burn and decomposition. I think my father was trying to forge my stomach into a food chamber as impervious as his, and for the most part, it worked.

Even if I do sometimes come down with a case of excruciating stomach pain, my mind remains steadfast, addicted to the rush that comes with avoiding waste, no matter the consequences. Nothing parallels the taste of environmentalism that comes with every bite you take to save an abandoned morsel from the dumpster.

At restaurants, I am so disgusted at the wanton squandering of perfectly good food that I sometimes sneak scraps off the tables of strangers before the waiter can throw away that last bite of steak or half-glass of wine. I revel in my delicious, planet-saving ways, always to the horror of my dates, who, for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on, never return my calls.

While this example is of course eminently reasonable, sometimes my attempts to save food go just a little bit too far. I know, I know, you’d think there’s no such thing as too far when it comes to this, but believe me when I say it’s happened.

Like last summer, when half a burrito appeared in our fridge following a week of drunken revelry. Thanks to the haze of our collective memory, no one could pinpoint where it had come from, and despite our Holmesian powers of deduction, further inspection gave us little insight. We were unable to determine even the ingredients, for they’d all faded to a uniform shade of grey. Naturally, the only option left was for me to use the tried and true Taste Test. I heated up the sucker and took a bite—

SON OF AN UNDEAD SKUNK it was terrible! I’d never tasted such disgusting meat, if it could still be called ‘meat’.

But I’m a glutton for attention as well as food, so I announced my findings loudly to the group, complaining with what I considered entertaining zeal…and then took another bite—HOLY MOTHER OF MOLD it was just as bad as I remembered. And yet I took another bite…and another, loudly lamenting my fate the entire time, until finally the whole thing was gone.

I was had just enough time to lift my arms into a celebratory first pump before my stomach contracted in violent spasms. That night was spent mostly moaning and rolling around on the floor.


Better was that time I woke up and walked into the backyard to observe the glory of the morning, where much to my surprise I happened upon a giant vat of chili sitting on the porch. That was the most glorious morning of all. There was no telling how long it had been sitting there beneath the beating sun, and the manner of its arrival was similarly mysterious. Was it perhaps left by an assassin who was aware of my inability to resist unexplained food?

And how long had it been baking in the heat, turning from delicious bean-meat to disgusting heat-rot?

These were the thoughts that didn’t once cross my mind as I began to devour it with abandon. It was as delicious as any unexplained porch chili I’d ever tasted. Whatever poisons the recipe had called for obviously didn’t affect the flavor or consistency.


Probably my family’s crowning achievement in the world of questionable food preservation was our pilfering of what became known to all our friends as the “trash burgers.” You see, at the end of my high school baseball season, one of my rich teammates’ families threw a party. It was an extravagant affair, riddled with a lavish assortment of buns, condiments, and chips, and they spared no expense on the mostly-beef hot dogs and the Costco burger patties. They grilled literally hundreds of burgers, an unmanageable number by anyone’s standards. The 14 of us and our assorted family members did what we could to dent the meatacopia, but we were no match for the half-cow of beef that lay before us.

As the party drew to a close, it became clear that at least 70 burgers would go uneaten, but before clan Nickel could react, the party-thrower dumped them all in the trash in an act of pure apathy! By god, man! What were you thinking?! There will be starving children at the Nickel household in oh, 8 or 10 hours!

Seeing those perfectly good patties tumble with finality into that unforgiving germ canister was one of the worst moments of my life, or was at least slightly disheartening.

I was younger then, and less resolute, so I merely mourned the loss, trading hope for less effective tears. But my dad, he’s a man of action. He called me to his side, and together we analyzed the physics of the trash can. It quickly became clear that with such a quantity of burgers, it was impossible for all of them to touch actual trash. We rejoiced, seeing to our delight that a good 40% of the burgers were protected on all sides by a buffer layer of more burgers!

Not caring who judged us, we proceeded to pluck every unsoiled patty from its doom and stack them onto a series of plates. We feasted on those burgers for weeks and weeks, tasting joy in every rescued bite.

We’re humanitarians of the highest degree—that’s what I say.

Man, all this talk of food is making me hungry. If only I had something to eat. Wait a second! I’m pretty sure I have some sushi leftover from last week! Excuse me, would you?


Filed under Stories

41 responses to “Food of Dubious Origins

  1. Read this waiting for my car at the garage, and it has given me great entertainment this morning! Thanks, great blog.

  2. Michael

    this one struck a personal note as I’m a food hoover like yourself! the burger story especially….. have you ever tried dumpster diving? my life got so much better when I discovered it – you essentially get better quality, still-good food, and all for free! just google it for more info… but as a taster, the other day we found about 16 kilos of premium ground coffee (still sealed in bags!), and about $200-worth of assorted cheeses and red wine. and none of it even slightly gone off!! it’s a whole new world.

    • Wow! That’s amazing! It really does sound like

      A whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew. And when you’re way down there, trash in your hair, it’s only fair to grab a bite or two.

  3. Awesome post. 🙂

    Waste not, want not.

    Enjoy the sushi. Raw fish ages like red wine. 😉

    • Sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. I had to spend a couple days recovering from the sushi.

      Your analogy is pretty accurate. I felt about as good the morning after as when I drink 2 or 3 bottles of good red wine.

  4. Darn it! You made me laugh.
    …And I was trying to pretend to be working!

    😀 Great post, man! (Even though it earned me a dirty look from my boss, who is now aware of my work ethic.)

    • Reasonably Ludicrous: exposing the truth about people. Your boss actually paid us to try to be amusing in an attempt to discover whether or not you were working. Mission accomplished!

  5. I might be able to match you on quantity, but you win the origin battle hands down. Urp…

    • I like a fellow quantity man. Perhaps it was that trait that first drew me to Brian, the roommate, who once ate 6 pounds of little smokies in one sitting. I can’t even eat one or two of those things without experiencing a horrible pangs of regret.

  6. Wow, my formerly iron stomach would bow to your super iron stomach if it could. The craziest thing I’ve ever eaten is a frozen pizza that looked a little weird…after eating some, I discovered that the sell by date for that particular pizza was eight years ago. My stomach grumbled but didn’t do any crazy gymnastics. Whew!

    • Eight year old pizza?! That’s pretty impressive. Just like stomachs that do gymnastics. Have you seen the abs on those ring guys?

      My grandma once made me some soup with an extremely old spice that was riddled with beetles. We didn’t realize what the black specks were until were about halfway through…

      • What should have tipped me off about the pizza was the sauce being orange instead of red. Ewwww. I have probably seen those abs, but I’m always distracted by the giant biceps! They’d probably be the size of my head.
        o.O Beetles?! So, uh, how did they taste?
        One of my friends made tea with some really old teabags once. She said that there was mold floating around in her cup

  7. allenavw

    I almost couldn’t make it through the part about the burrito. That was disgusting. But I love the stomach of steel cartoon.

    I’ve eaten some strange things on dares before, but never anything quite as… interesting as this.

  8. If I’d made a new year resolution to lose weight I would thank you because reading this post put me off my breakfast–but it was worth the laugh! Great post and pics.

  9. My dad loves a supermarket bargain too. We used to have catch-a-can nights when I was a kid – just to make space in the pantry for more cans. If there’s ever a food shortage, or a zombie apocalypse, my parents will probably be among those who survive the longest.

    • Unless they eat some bad food that starts the zombie apocalypse…

      That’s what I always worry about.

      • Oh, wow. Good thing I live 1000km away from them. If the zombie apocalypse starts with the dubious food from their cupboard, I’ll have plenty of warning to escape the mainland.

        Hey, just a sec…

        Russ, are you a dubious-food-altered zombie posing as a normal blogging person?

  10. I know you’ll take this as a compliment (though it’s not meant as one) but I read this whole post with a grimace of disgust and threw up a little in my mouth when it got to the burrito bit.

    That said. I’ve a friend who used to work in a steak house and he says meat develops its best flavor as it approaches it’s due date.

    Still. Gross. Hahahha. Great post brother!

    • Thanks! Nobody’s ever said such nice things about their level of disgust. I had no idea people would be so horrified by this. Last week I disturbed you and now I made you throw up in your mouth. I need to start considering my readers more when I write these things.

  11. Yay, the English dictionary has a new word: Buffer Burger! I share your sentiments when it comes to throwing away perfectly good food, and a best before date doesn’t mean much to me either. However, I draw the line at discolorations and odours. Since my pregnancy. Another thing to thank the little monster for.

  12. writingandrecovering

    Awesome, but I don’t think I could ever do something like, well any of that.

  13. Oh my gosh. As someone who struggles with tummy issues and gets sick from eating even food that normally gives me no issues, this post made me laugh hysterically and cringe in disgust (and imagined pain). Another amazing post!

  14. I can’t even eat a fresh burrito, much less a grey one. Fabulous job, as usual!

  15. The Pencil Pirouette

    I can’t believe it. Disgusting. Is this for real? Though i believe you when u say you’re a glutton for food and attention. But oh my what a way to draw attention @_@

    Still lovin’ the drawings though. 🙂

  16. I guess the origin of the food is not as dubious as your tummy!

  17. GG

    Touched by your humanity and effort to save the world. Our world needs more Heroes like you…

  18. Hey i was just wondering about us talking about are sites cause i really like yours if so then you can go to and leave me a message. Thanks i hope to here from you soon.
    Connor Walsh

  19. Oh dear, all that talk of “dubious” food was starting to make me queasy. I’m a little envious; weather the food is good or not, I get sick! Every time! Makes Thanksgiving a little bitter sweet. XD

  20. I live with a man known as ‘the walking dustbin’ for this same trait. He has been slightly more selective than you describe, thank goodness, as he’s terrible when sick and has trouble stopping once he starts. Thankfully a rare occurance – he’s probably slightly more selective due to being a Health Officer! Great tale, many thanks for sharing 😉

  21. Anonymous

    Buffer burgers just cracked me up — both the illustration and the concept (which is of course completely valid…). And I’m with you on the shrimp tails, too!

  22. Um… Gross. But thrifty!

    And I must admit, I have a hankering for burgers now…

  23. I think I could relate to this. I am a very ‘practical’ person as well.
    My fave part was the burger buffers.Hehehe.=)

  24. Pingback: Pseudo-Dates: A Real-Life Case Study | Reasonably Ludicrous

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