In my house, the way Mario and I store food (particularly leftovers) is a source of contention. In fact, it's the only topic we've ever really argued about. After two years of marriage, we have clearly made some compromises. While visiting my family last week, I was able to see how, slowly and insidiously, these changes are in conflict with the way I was raised.
In Indiana last week, I made enchiladas for my family and friends and was shredding the chicken off and on one afternoon. Whenever I had to put the chicken down for a few minutes, I just placed it on the counter. It was maybe 70 degrees, at most, that day. Whenever my mom would see the cooked chicken just sitting on the counter, she, like any good Midwesterner, immediately whisked the chicken in the refrigerator.
Now, is that chicken really going to go bad in an hour or two sitting on the counter on a cool day?
After living with my husband for a few years now, my experience tells me no. But any good Midwesterner does freak out a bit on this subject. After all, a few days earlier, my friend stopped over after going out to dinner. She brought her carry-out with her. After a few minutes of noticing that it was just sitting out on the counter, she asked if she could put it in the fridge.
Uh, sure. No problem. But your leftovers aren't going to go bad in an hour or two. I promise.
Yet, I do remember my first Christmas in Saltillo, when Mario's family descended on our house for a week and took over the kitchen. At eight months pregnant, I did not mind a bit. However, I couldn't stand to go into the kitchen and stand to see leftovers just sitting out on the stove, uncovered. Then, when Mario's aunt would think to put them away, she'd just thrust the entire pot of whatever it was into the fridge, as is, without a lid. This drove me crazy.
But now, I do it myself. All the time.
And, no doubt, this drives my family crazy.