I perused my food stores this past Sunday. I was apprised that my significant other had recalibrated the cupboards in an earnest effort to protect me from future bouts of food poisoning. These were her words, not mine.
She told me about this newfound and—apparently— life-changing event as we drove through the pre-dawn darkness on the way to the airport to send her south to review her own cupboard keeping habits. I rushed home to survey the work she had done. It’s acceptable, but I am missing some perfectly edible staple foods.
She was home for an extended stay, and while she knows I am a planner (not a hoarder), she believes I need to do a better job rotating the crops, or in this case, the cans.
I tend to stack my canned goods. I buy a bunch, stack them on the shelves, and then I pull from the top. I am reinventing myself , and I will begin to pull cans and containers from the bottom; this could be disastrous, and noisy, but I am committed to keeping my end of the bargain.
My Campbell’s soup stack appears to be untouched, and this gives me hope. I consume it quite often. My collection of tomato soup never sits very long before I need to replace it with fresh stock. I buy it by the flat, and I fall back on toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup when I am low on everything else. There is no way that it has a chance to expire.
Thanks to her, I am now low on everything else.
She claims that she found some canned goods that had expired back in 2012. I can’t confirm that this is true since she rid our home of the evidence, but I do recall eating some sardines—on crackers— that displayed an expiration date in 2018. They were fine, and I didn’t tell her about it. I don’t tell anyone about it (except you). I recall shrugging my shoulders when I popped the top of the tin, I might have mumbled, “Meh,” and then dug in.
You can’t inform just anyone that you eat sardines as many folks seem to make the same gruesome gagging vocalization and then ridicule you to no end. If someone sees you eating sardines, they immediately indicate through word and deed that you are stinking up the place. Usually, you are. Eating sardines at work in a well-attended lunchroom is a recipe for being shunned for years.
The way I look at it, someone other than me is eating sardines. When the pandemic-related food shortages hit, I couldn’t find a dang can of ‘dines anywhere on the shelves. I made it through the drought; I had at least twenty cans in the cupboard.
Can sardines go bad? Ask their mothers because I have no idea.
The saltines that I utilized during the late-night SOLR (Snacking of Last Resort) were stale, but they were accompanied by sardines. So, there is that.
Stale crackers meet the threshold of a delicious side dish when eaten with expired sardines. I don’t accept life choices as an either/or situation. I am more of a “things could be worse” kind of guy.
Now, the crackers were not stale because they were aging in place. The saltines were stale because I had run out of clothespins to secure the loose end of the cellophane sleeve that keeps them neatly stacked—and fresh—when tightly sealed.
When I last checked the cupboard, each shelf was full. My judicious inspection caused me to conclude she has halved my kitchen stores. I have more in the basement.
There are beans, soup, Goldfish crackers in the big box, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, spaghetti sauces, Spam, Vienna sausage, and other things. I also have more sardines, and, yup, I have toilet paper, but I don’t panic over paper products. I panicked that she might have plucked the pantry of my pre-pandemic Peter Pan peanut butter.
I picked up the gigantic tub on one of those days when people were buying everything and anything from the shelves at my local grocer. The mega jar was the last one on the shelf. I grabbed it, and have gone through a little over half of it in the past year. The huge jar represented a strange time in America. I believe we have a bond. It still tastes fine, but I am not going to check the date on the jar. In a display of trust toward Peter, I will just keep eating it until it’s gone.
Ellie gets her peanut butter for her share of the stale crackers from that jar. We have shared a lot of late-night snacks over the past year. I am having couple of crackers as I write this missive. Yes, they are a bit punky. They are also perfectly acceptable feeding fodder for my dog and me. We are not high-end.
I am now committed to picking up some new clothespins. Ellie will appreciate more of a crunch with her peanut butter treats, and I’ll be completely on my game with fresh crackers the next time I wade into a can of old sardines.
(Copyright April 2021)
**Thanks for stopping by the page to check out the newslog, thanks for all the support in the coffee supply, and thank you for the notes and emails. I read every single one of them, I cannot always respond. Trust me when I tell you that it means a lot to hear from each and every one of you.
Thank you for those of you who have pre-ordered my new book, as well.