Cast-iron stomachs: Hold the old dogs but not the cheese pizza

The hot dog was only in the ‘fridge for two to three days. And, maybe, it had a few hours of room temperature time before that. Certainly it was not an ideal meal, but for a hungry journalist late in the evening it was a dinner feast.

We are a busy group of reporters, editors, writers and photographers. Days can be long and often fast-paced.

We are not always proud of our food choices. But we eat them anyway.

Yet, we all kind of grimaced when we saw the sports guy chowing down on the days-old dog.

I was Lifestyles editor for 10 years, which meant writing and editing for a weekly “Kitchens” section.

Quiz me about rare ingredients, food allergies or legumes and nuts, and I will eagerly run the category on Jeopardy.

I know about cumin and couscous — and I had this information before the ingredients were mainstream.
In the spirit of knowledge, I also know about food safety.

  • Hot foods hot.
  • Colds food cold.
  • Salmonella.
  • E. Coli.
  • Cramps. Nausea. Potential death.

It’s not pretty.

Sadly, what we know and understand does not always translate to real-world scenarios.

A cheese-and-meat sub left on a file cabinet for eight hours suddenly looks mighty tasty at 10 p.m. when the press deadline is looming.

Yes, we are not the healthiest bunch. But we may be among the hungriest.

Most folks have a family member or friend with the proverbial cast-iron stomach — those people who can eat massive quantities of questionable foods with only a slight burp in response.

Chances are they work in our newsroom.

In the office, we eat pizza — piping hot or ice cold — all the time.

So the pepperoni is frigid and the veggies wilted — that’s not a game-changer, is it?

I think maybe — probably, hopefully — there is a secret study that shows leftovers in a newspaper office are safer and last longer than in average kitchens.

My upbringing in Sunday school and morning church services tells me God has pity on the tired, weary and hungry.

We are all that, and more.

Office cuisine questions aside, there is no excuse for my recent, at-home dinner debacle.

It was early in the week — Monday or Tuesday — and it was just me and the German shepherds at home.
Take-out sounded good, and the deal at the nearest pizza place was too good to pass up. There was no way I could eat an entire large with extra, extra cheese, but I ordered it anyway.

After two slices I left the box on the counter thinking I would have a third before bedtime.

Then Baby Bear decided to act like the 100-plus pound puppy that he is, grabbing the pizza box and sprinting toward his hidey-hole in the den.

In a flash, I swiped the box back, shoved it into the microwave and immediately began wrestling with Bear in an attempt to get the TV remote out of his mouth.

It was a long and slobbery night.

And the pizza was forgotten.

Until five days later.

I entered the kitchen and saw a family member a slice-and-a-half in on the long-cold pie.

“This pizza is still good, isn’t it?” he asked.

I took a pause — a long pause — before answering.

“Ummmmm … I don’t know,” I responded with hesitation. “You’re eating it. Is it good?”

At the end of the night he had finished the entire pizza.

My guilt was overwhelming but I still didn’t ‘fess up — although I did watch him closely until 2 a.m.

By afternoon the next day — with no symptoms of food poisoning — I breathed a sigh of relief.

The old cheese layered on old sauce on old crust apparently wasn’t toxic.

And, it seemed, the husband had a cast-iron stomach, too.

On a recent walk from my office to the printer, I meandered through the newsroom.

I saw month-old candy and a seemingly petrified bag of potato chips.

OK, the chips were in my office but I have now thrown them away along with the year-old can of unopened Pepsi.

Surviving as a journalist isn’t always pretty. But neither is it so for those in many other professions.

We do what we do and try to survive — and potentially thrive — in a dog-eat-dog world.

Or is that dog-eat-pizza?

I’m slightly embarrassed to say there’s another extra, extra cheese pizza in my microwave.

Yes it’s a little old, but that won’t stop me from having a third slice.

SAMANTHA PERRY is editor of the Daily Telegraph.