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Fridge Finds

by Stephen Lautens


September 20, 2002

Every family has designated one person to be responsible for the worst job in the house.

Collecting the garbage? Phish. Hardly worth mentioning. 

Cleaning the toilet (including the floor way in behind the bowl). A comparative walk in the park. 

Scooping up the yard after a large German shepherd with a fondness for Mexican food? Close, but no cigar.

No, the worst job in the house is being the one who has to root through the fridge in search of food well past its prime. And I'm not saying that just because that job falls to me.

Between a hectic schedule and a brain turned to mush by the incessant and unreasonable demands of a six month old, it's impossible in our house to keep an inventory of the food in the fridge. This results in two things. The first is duplication. No matter when I go to the store I always seem to think that we're out of butter. As a result, we now have eight or nine bricks of butter in the fridge. With all those gold wrappers, it's starting to look like the vault at Fort Knox in there.

The second consequence of not knowing what's in the fridge is loosing track of the leftovers. Different members of our household have their own approach to the issue of leftovers. Personally I have never been a fan of leftovers. As far as I'm concerned, food is edible from the moment it's ready until the second it's cold. And then it goes right into the garbage. Before you say: "How wasteful", I do my utmost when cooking to get the portions just right so there aren't any leftovers.

I like to think that by refusing to save leftovers I'm simply cutting out the middleman. As far as I'm concerned the fridge is just a two week lay-over on the way to the trash.

My wife on the other hand likes leftovers, or at least can't bear to part with them. Everything left over from dinner goes into little plastic bags or tubs and gets stashed in the freezer or fridge. "I'll have it for dinner some night when you're out," is the usual reply to the face I make as three peas, a meatball and a spoonful of macaroni go into a margarine tub like some sort of malnourished time capsule. I can't help but imagine that anything that ends up in the freezer is being cryogenically frozen until that time in the future when we're more advanced and we have finally found a cure for leftovers.

Leftovers tend to linger in our fridge. After all, there's no hurry to eat them since they're already cooked, and they're really only being kept in case of an emergency shortage of food. As long as there is something better to eat, they'll keep getting pushed to the back of the shelf until some brave soul (me) takes the bull by the horns and finally tosses it out before we get accused of producing biological weapons.

So whether it's leftovers or old odd food I get to be the heartless one, garbage bag in one hand and holding my nose with the other, sorting my way through the shelves. The night before garbage day the unidentifiable remains of meals gone by are the first to go. An excavation of the freezer usually yields a few forgotten frozen morsels, half embedded in the frost like woolly mammoths, and almost as tasty. And if I'm really on a tear I'll even start going through the weird jar food.

So if you'll excuse me, I swear there's a jar of capers that's been in there since the Trudeau years and is now probably safe to throw out.

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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