My family members are savers - the classic, thrifty New Englanders who waste nothing, where the third R of the waste management triangle, Recycle, was virtually unknown because the first two (Reduce, Reuse) were maximized as much as humanly possible. We wear shoes too small or keep them in the closet in perpetuity (see One Size Too Small here.)
My father grew up picking potatoes and cutting wood in Maine, often in subzero temperatures. Even to this day, everything he does is defined by an extreme sense of survival. I have seen him scrape burnt toast and clean and fold aluminum foil for reuse.
In our home, for chocolate milk, we had Nestle's Quik, not Bosco or Nutella. I have a suspicion that this choice was driven both by compulsive neatness, another hallmark of many a spartan, Shaker-like New England household and the idea that it is easier to extract every last gram of powder from a can than syrup from a bottle. My father would watch our Nestle's Quik mixing ritual with a very keen eye. Regardless of how vigorously we stirred, there would always be some residue at the bottom of the glass. He would shake his head and in the most disapproving tone would say "Look at that. Pure chocolate."
To this day, on the occasions that I may have some dessert or beverage with chocolate sauce, memories of Nestle's Quik give me some agita, even in New York City where there is enormous waste. If every citizen practiced the most careful, frugal lifestyle, the sheer size of this metropolis still turns everything into a big thing, be it snow removal, traffic or the volume of trash. New York City produces an extraordinary 12,000 tons of garbage daily.
Seeing all the goods in this city along with all the trash, does give the sense that to be in New York is to live in the horn of plenty. Even the underprivileged or homeless will do better here than in a less populated environment. There are outreach programs, soup kitchens, shelters and just lots for the picking in the streets of the city. When offered food, I have seen many homeless ask what it is before accepting. On Wednesday nights in Washington Square Park, a Christian group brings free food. But I have seen many homeless turn down food offers from them, saying that they were either full or did not appear interested in the selection. I am not extolling the benefits of the homeless life nor diminishing its hardships. But opportunity is much greater in New York to get by.
Recently, I celebrated a friend's birthday at Mud (see here). The desserts are a little pricey but excellent. Three of us shared two desserts with chocolate sauce. As you can see from the photographic evidence, we did a respectable job of finishing what was served. However, looking at the finished plate with a scrutinizing eye, one can hear a haunting voice that says, "Look at that. Pure Chocolate" :)