When in doubt

Last week I developed a hankerin’ to get my veggies on. A grocery shop was imminent, and veggies were on the list, so I checked the fridge for Italian dressing (it’s the best to marinate lettuce-free salad fixins’ until lunch time). I had some, excellent.

Out of curiosity, I checked the expiry date, even though I was pretty sure I’d only bought it a few months ago.

December 1st, 2006.


And so it began. You see, my confidence in the freshness of any of my condiments had been shattered. Plus, I’m the only one who buys/uses stuff, so if I couldn’t trust my grocery memory, who knows what horrors lurked?

And so into the fridge I reached, way to the back, and started pulling things out. Now, granted, my fridge is a lot more barren than most people’s, especially any household with multiple people residing there.

Some stuff was really easy to decide to toss:

  • visible expiry date that had passed
  • moldy
  • dessicated
  • bought for one recipe that I’ve never made again
  • bought, tried it once, and didn’t like it.

Then things got a bit harder. I mean, to my mind pretty much everything in there was older than the salad dressing… except it wasn’t.

Ok, well, the two dressings that contained generous quantities of HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) derivatives weren’t a hard choice to toss.

There was a large can of wild Pacific salmon. Mom might have left that there. I’m not the world’s biggest salmon fan, so I wouldn’t have bought it, especially not a big can. Opened it up and it smelled fishy fresh, and hey, the wild stuff generally does taste better. So I did what any normal person would do — I gave some to the cat. He was totally down with that action, so I snapped a cat food lid on it and back into the fridge it went for feline dinner time. (As of this morning, Anatole was still alive.)

The two bottles of chocolate and caramel sauce. Hmm… I moved those from the old place. And that was over a year ago. And I bought them on a cross-border trip with Violet. Man, we haven’t been cross-border in ages. I don’t even think I bought them on the last cross-border trip… Yeah, tossed.

So, yeah, about 20 bottles, jars, and tubs later, I had a very squishy — and decidedly spicy and Asian-inspired — kitchen garbage and a much fuller recycling bin. Must be a spring itch, too, because it’s spreading.

I’ve got two bags of clothes and shoes for Goodwill beside my bed, I threw out a couple old shirts that were approaching translucence, and last night I tossed about half my nail polish. Mostly colours that had long ago separated and ones I’ll never wear again. (Iridescent turquoise? What the hell’s wrong with you, woman?) Amusingly, I did remember when I bought some of them. There were a couple from the teen years (remember when that dried blood “vamp” colour was all the rage?), and three I bought in Australia (nine years ago…)

Of course, satisfying as a good spring cleaning can be, the most impressive condiment expulsion happened years ago at the townhouse. See, friends of mine had bought it while in university. One of the guys was working then, so his name was on the mortgage. I think the other guys contributed to the down payment, and lived there when they were on school terms, and sublet as they could while on work terms.

The result was that over four or five years, quite a few people went through the place. There were usually four living there. And while everyone brought groceries into the house, not often did they clean out that stuff when they left.

As you can imagine, in a house with four people, especially guys, the fridge is normally pretty full. But over time, trying to find room for anything was like three-dimensional Tetris. And so one day we decided to do a clean-out.

Anything rotted or wilted – gone. Some things were so terrifying the containers the food was in — even Tupperware — went with them.

That was the easiest part. Then we started on the condiments. I believe the expiry winner was something that had gone off five years earlier. Yum! A couple of my roommates (I lived there by then) argued for the merits of “barely” expired salad dressings, but fortunately they were overruled by the more hardcore among us. Plus, after the clean-out there were still something like six or eight edible dressings, so we weren’t hurting for variety. (I believe at one point we had four different kinds of ranch!)

At the end of it, we’d filled a big garbage bag (huzzah for dumpsters!) and had more bottles, jars, and cans than the recycling bin could fit. (Fortunately we had those big flip-top bins in the parking lot.)

And amazingly, afterwards you could see all the way to the back wall of the fridge… for a few days, anyway.

Y’know what occurred to me yesterday, though? I never did replace the mascot beers with anything…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *