i have a confession to make. i was brought up just like everyone else, told to eat my peas because there were starving children in china, taking leftovers to school for lunch in empty “i can’t believe it’s not butter” containers, and never knowing what an in-sink garbage disposal was for.

but sometimes, all that training just doesn’t cut it. the stomach virus has come and gone, and left me with extra food-money (when you eat nothing but bread and cashews for two weeks, you can really see it in the budget) and three containers of cous cous.

the first container is half-full of pesto, squash, and zucchini cous cous adapted from bettycrocker.com. i made it right before the stomach virus struck, and it is wonderful. it’s rich, it’s fragrant, it’s tasty, it’s insanely easy to make… and it’s totally incompatible with stomach viruses. so now, two and a half weeks later, i can’t bring myself to believe that it’s still good.

the second container holds the remains of my invention, stomach-virus friendly cous cous. i ate it for breakfast and lunch for a week, and managed not to fall fully prey to the virus. but now… i look at it and then i look away.

the third container is the most dismal, because it contains a classic example of what kept me from cooking for so long–one of my inventions that is, well, not very good. we were tired of the ginger mint dish, but still not ready for heavy foods again. so, flushed with the success of the ginger mint recipe, i threw together tomatoes (and not very good ones either), apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and cous cous. the result is, well, vinegar-ee. surprised? me neither. like most of my failed inventions, it’s not inedible; it just doesn’t taste very good.

it reminds me very strongly of the summer during college that i spent working and living alone in los angeles. in my sublet studio apartment i did nothing but read everything i could get my hands on and cook from the Vegetarian 5 Ingredient Gourmet. i don’t blame the cookbook at all. i don’t know what happened. but every recipe i made turned out wrong. they were all edible, and i ate them, but i didn’t enjoy it much. that summer is the reason that it took three years for me to open a cookbook.

so here i am, surrounded by unwanted food. my husband and i are tired of cous cous, no matter how gentle it is on our stomachs. what do i do?

i say, to hell with it and the ghost of summers past!, and throw it all away. it’s a grand gesture, one that carries a bit of guilt but a lot of freedom. and despite the guilt, i feel like i’m throwing away more than just mediocre food–i’m also letting go of childhood frustration, college culinary failure, and the last remnants of the evil virus.

so long, cous cous. i’m sure we’ll meet again.