“What’s In Other People’s Fridges Says A Lot About Them,” by Elizabeth Bastos

Feb 24th, 2010 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

A hasty survey (taken at parties when I say I am going to powder my nose, but really I am checking out their fridges) of my friend’s fridges (and pantries) reveals that certain people can live without quinoa. Few of my friends are spelt-lovers. Few take the time to cut fruit with a fruit knife in the European manner—there are lots of packages of Wegman’s pre-cut melon.

Many, many are disorganized (or just plain wrong) in their methods of cheese saving. I’ve seen plastic wrap, waxed paper, a brick of bare Cheddar going cracked and dry, first around the single bite-mark that’s been taken out of it. Also rinds of Parmesan being saved for god knows what romantic date night Italian minestrone that’s never going to happen.

What’s in other people’s fridges says a lot about them. For instance, that something is very wrong with them. They are still using plastic wrap to wrap up their black pepper chevre when anyone who is anyone knows better: use cheese monger’s paper, people.

My friends don’t want to talk about it. And I can’t bring it up because it would reveal a lot bout me, that I’m snooping about their kitchens (just to make sure they’re okay! Because I care!). But I wonder: how many heads of fresh organic bib lettuce have to rot to puddles, to later be shamefully cleaned out of the fridge, before they realize how their cold-storage and strangely stocked pantries have to do with their childhoods?

Who are you, taking a quickie bite out of a brick of cheddar in the middle of the night?  Hoarding “envelopes” of water-packed school lunch albacore from Costco and boxes of Amy’s Organic Macaroni Bunnies n’ Cheese? You do not have children. Tell me, is it so hard to say you were not loved? That your heart, like your stomach, went unsatisfied through middle school?

Your mother; tell me about her. About how she stored cultured butter in a crock on the countertop when everyone else’s non-Eastern-European-immigrant mothers kept margarine. I know how that feels. Tell me how her love was as warped as plastic wrap when you pull out plastic wrap to wrap a sandwich and accidentally the plastic wrap touches the side of the still-warm toaster-oven and crumples to nothing, leaving nothing but a strong lingering smell. I will understand. My own mother’s love was like freezer-burned gallon of mint chip ice cream.

I’ll open my fridge to show you; I still have that gallon of ice cream. All these years later I still yearn for it to not be all ice-rimey and freezer-burny, but creamy and delicious.  I’ll pull apart the Western saloon-style pantry doors of my pantry. Do not be shocked, friends. We are alike, you and I. I, too, have prepared an apocalypse-survival kit of prune juice and Martini and Rossi.


Elizabeth Bastos used to work in corporate and foundation relations, but now she has two children and writes humor and poetry in the Baltimore suburbs. She can be found at goodybastos.blogspot.com.

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