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Bruce’s Food Eccentricities

expiration date

This is not a post about food in general, dieting, or the future of the world food supply. I certainly have opinions on all of the subjects, but in this post, I want to share a list of a few of my eccentricities when it comes to food and drink. Enjoy

Ice Cream

I love ice cream. When I want seconds, I always have to have a new bowl and spoon.

Expiration Dates

I treat expiration dates as if they are etched in stone. Yes, I know many expiration dates are “best if used by” dates. It doesn’t matter. Out the item goes on its expiration date.


All leftovers must be eaten within seventy-two hours. Out they go, regardless of freshness.

Eating Food Made by Others at Church Potlucks

I pastored Baptist churches. Baptists are known for their love of potlucks — where individual church members bring a dish to share with everyone. As a pastor, I visited church families at their homes several times a year. This allowed me to develop personal relationships with them outside of a church setting. Of course, this also exposed me to how they lived — including how clean they kept their homes. I have seen more than a few homes posing as landfills. Filth everywhere. Over time, I developed a phobia about eating food cooked by anyone except Polly. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat so-and-so’s food, knowing the condition of their kitchens.

I passed this phobia on to my oldest two sons. They hate potlucks.

Drinking After Others

I don’t drink after other people — ever. I dated Polly for two years before we were married. I have known her for forty-three years. We have swapped a lot of spit, but I have never, ever drank after her. Not one time. The same goes for my children, grandchildren, siblings, and parents. I would die of thirst before I would drink after someone else.

Eating One Food Item at a Time

Generally, I eat my food one item at a time. Every once in a blue moon — say at a steak joint — I will only eat part of my baked potato before moving on to my steak.

Cleaning the Table at a Restaurant

I always stack up all the dishes and clean the table before we leave. I don’t want the server to think we are pigs.

Bread Balls

On occasion, I will take two or three pieces of cheap white bread and mash them into a ball and eat it. The first time Polly saw me do this, forty-something years ago, she thought I was nuts. She should have followed her gut instinct and run.

Lukewarm Food

I like my food either cold or hot. I refuse to eat lukewarm food, be it at a restaurant or at home. Thanks be to Loki for microwaves.

Cheap Hotdogs

I rarely will eat cheap hotdogs. I know how hot dogs are made; what cuts of meat are used. Something that sells for $1 a pound can’t be good. Well, unless it’s a fried corn dog. The batter turns the hot dog into a sirloin steak.

Beggar Cats and Dogs

We have a cat and a dog. Both of them are twelve or so years old. They have been part of our family for over a decade. Much to Polly’s consternation, I give both of them table scraps. They have turned into vultures who sit at my feet, waiting for me to give them food.

Thirty-Eight and Zero

Our refrigerator and freezer have thermometers that are regularly monitored by yours truly. The fridge is kept at exactly thirty-eight degrees. Not thirty-six or forty — exactly thirty-eight. The freezer is kept at zero at all times. We plan to buy a new freezer sometime next year. Our current one is twelve years old and is manual defrost. Who is the dumbass who bought a MANUAL defrost freezer? The freezer has to be unloaded and manually defrosted every two to three months, depending on the weather. On the bucket list: new auto defrost freezer.

Do you have food-related peculiarities or habits? Please share them in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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  1. Avatar

    I can’t bring myself to throw out food unless it’s truly stinking or rotten, no matter the expiration date. I’ve been known to retrieve fresh food from the waste bin. I eat one food at a time exactly as you describe, usually leaving the best to last. I hate ‘contamination’ between items on my plate, so I only use gravy if I can keep it to one item and I never eat baked beans for this reason. I’ll often eat things cold such as sausage rolls in preference to heating them. I hate eating fruit such as apples and peaches by biting direct into them and always use a knife to cut the pieces.

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    Melissa A Montana

    I still have a peas and carrots issue from childhood. In fact, any mixed vegetables, unless they are in soup. It’s difficult for me to toss anything unless it’s clearly spoiled. I also used to eat too much because I was raised in a “clean your plate” culture. No matter how full you were, the plate had to be cleaned. I made myself sick a few times. Coming from a family of hoarders, I’ve needed therapy to get past this. I agree, Bruce; it’s better to err on the side of caution than to get food poisoning. You would not believe the crap I ate in childhood. I think it’s because my mom was a refugee who faced starvation, and my dad was a Depression Era kid. So many hang ups to pass on.

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    My daughter managed a government department in London that was seeking to reduce food that goes into landfill. She said using food before its sell by/use by date was a generation thing. Those old enough to remember food rationing in ww2 wasted nothing, their frig may well have tiny dishes with a spoonful of peas, or potato. Come down the generations, and they wasted food more, because they read the labels. If that yogurt said ‘use by 16th’, and they knew they’d not home to eat it till the 17th, it got chucked out on the 15th. There was a bit of a campaign to get folk to disregard dates and do a ‘sniff and taste’ test, take a tiny bit and see if it was still fresh. Being of an older generation, we waste nothing, and though we wouldn’t eat dangerously stale food, have never had upset stomachs by eating up leftovers. Most surplus foods can be frozen anyway for later creative use…

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    I have a stomach of steel, so expiration dates are just general guidelines for me. When I was a kid, I only ate one single food at a time, and foods on my plate couldn’t touch and cross-contaminate. My family made fun of me relentlessly for that, so occasionally I would take a bite from another food to get them to stop. I despise being made fun of, and often did things to stop the teasing (I hate being hounded about things too, which is why I “got saved” so the family would leave me alone). I eat a lot of the same foods for breakfast and lunch, but dinner varies. If I put butter, jelly, peanut butter, etc., on bread, it must equally cover the bread – no bare spots. I have been eating gluten-free since 2012 because gluten upsets my digestive system – it can make eating out at restaurants challenging, but it’s easier than in 2012. I love food and am thinking about my next meal or snack shortly after finishing the previous one. I don’t understand people who “forget to eat” – how is that possible? I would be a better athlete if I could cut weight in racing season, but it’s just not worth it. I don’t love cooking but I love eating.

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    Thanks for enormous chuckles Bruce !
    Loved reading all that. Many of which I am eccentric about too. But yours deserves an A+

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    Best buy dates are an estimate by the producer when they expect the food to be at its best taste and consistency. You won’t get sick eating after a best buy date for canned and pantry goods. Milk and refrigerated products is variable, but the best way to tell is use the old honker and sniff it. If you cut mold off of hard cheese, you need to go in at least 3/4″, otherwise the hyphae of the fungus might still create a bad musty/fungal taste. Soft cheese with mold you should just pitch. I sniff milk every time I use it, it can go sour before the expiration date. Don’t leave milk on the table to pass around or to await refills, put the milk in glasses and quickly return the jug to the fridge. The best use for best by dates is to consume older food first as a method of inventory control.

    I suppose I have also have a quirk in the same vein. If I think something is going bad I won’t use it, but won’t throw it out until it shows mold or other sign of entropy.

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    I can’t stand to waste food and will often cut off a bad piece of apple, etc. and consume the rest. Afterwards I always kick myself for waiting so long to eat it. I’m very aware it always tastes better when it’s fresh.
    There are so many foods I won’t touch after being tortured by them as a child: lima beans, meatloaf slathered in ketchup, fat on meat cuts (“Eat it – it’s good for you!”), canned vegetables or fruits, scrambled eggs cooked to the consistency of popcorn…
    And I need something sweet after my meal to cleanse my palate, or something…

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    Reverend Greg

    I absolutely cannot stand cold pizza or Alfredo sauce. Of course, now that I’ve changed my eating habits due to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, pizza is a rare treat. I got to where I couldn’t eat hot dogs unless charred over a fire. I once stabbed a friend’s hand with a fork for trying food off my plate. On the gross side, I have a friend who will finish your plate if you can’t eat all of it. He’s a lawyer, so maybe that explains a lot.

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    Brian Vanderlip

    Listen Gerencser, you addled chew-bot: I love to mix a buttery mashed potato with young peas that pop in my mouth and into the taters and send me to heaven’s gate. What the hell do you think happens to food when you down it? It mixes! And I pay no attention to silly dates on packages! Most food in a package couldn’t go bad if it tried! Hell, it’s pretty clear you didn’t grow up with lots of kids/competition around and only a fixed feed of food. Your wife is a saint to put up with your goofy freezer fetishes and your need to dirty dishes! I bet you let her wash all your dishes too: Give me more and on a new plate with clean silverware! Gerencser, yer crazy and goofy nuts. No wonder Jesus planned for you to wander off the straight and narrow. Its all clear now. You were taken over by the devil in the kitchen. Listen, Jesus will take you back and make you normal again, a sensible Baptist meat and potatoes guy! You don’t need to live like this! Just repeat the sinner’s prayer after me…

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    Appalachian Agnostic

    Wow! I thought I was the only person who ever ate bread that way! I have done it since I was a little kid. I generally only do it in the privacy of my own home.

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    Anyone else ever eat “Ambrosia”? It was like a salad with marshmallows, i remember looking for ward to eating it at the church potlucks when i was a kid. I don’t I’ve had it outside of a church setting.

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    I don’t like any microwaved meat. I eat left over fried chicken cold out of refrigerator rather than warming it up again (especially in a microwave yuk). I think my favorite all time dinner is just plane old pasta and marinara sauce (gotta have the parmesan!) If I am eating meat I don’t like to see or eat any grissle or fat.

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    Ill be honest, I am a very picky eater. If the texture of something doesn’t feel good I wont eat it. So no coconut or broccoli for me. Lastly, I am deathly allergic to nuts, bananas make me gag, and I absolutely hate pickles, zucchinis and cucumbers making me just about the worst gay person ever ?.

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    I thought my sis and I were the only white bread ballers! We LOVED raw dough, but since our mom rarely baked this was our best alternative.

    As a very, very poor missionary kid, I had to eat so much semi-spoiled stuff that I literally had to shut down my taste buds. I have this weird hang-up now where I can’t eat everything I cook in one day (to make sure there is food for later). By the time I feel less guilty and ready to eat the leftovers, they are ready to expire and have to be tossed.

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Bruce Gerencser