My refrigerator is where cucumbers go to die. Not on purpose – I’m not a sadist – but from neglect and carelessness. Cucumbers seem like such a good idea when I buy them and such a lousy idea when it’s time to make dinner.
There seem to be a lot of things in my fridge like that: They just sit there until the things that are supposed to be hard go soft, and the things that are supposed to be soft go hard. That fancy cheese that I paid twice the price of my regular cheese for is now getting rock hard. I only bought it because they had some samples cut into little cubes with toothpicks in them. That should be illegal, because it’s misrepresentation. It doesn’t come all cut up in little cubes with toothpicks – you have to do all that yourself! Besides, it may have been the toothpick that had all the flavor, because it didn’t taste the same when I got it home.
But you don’t throw out something like that. You wait until you have company, then cut it up into little cubes and make them eat it. But I haven’t had any company in a couple of weeks. It’s as if people don’t like the food I’m serving. So that expensive cheese may be going the way of the cucumbers.
My fridge management definitely needs work. How many times have I opened a new jar of mayonnaise only to discover that there already was one open, hiding behind the tomato juice and a container of leftover moo goo gai pan? Actually, I don’t know why I bother to put leftovers in the fridge. When I do finally open them up, I can never remember when I put them in there, or even recognize what they are. I just end up throwing them in the trash. I should just cut out the middle step of putting them in the fridge and throw them out immediately. But then I’d be wasting food, whereas now, I’m throwing out garbage. It makes me feel morally superior.
One day, I got sick of seeing the same old half-filled bottles of condiments in the door racks of the refrigerator. It was time to toss out the half-bottle of Worcester sauce that had been in there since 2002, and that bottle of chocolate sauce we never used on ice cream because we never remembered it was in there. I found a bottle of a special type of vinegar that we bought for one specific recipe; we didn’t care for it and never used it again. It’s been in there stinking up the place for who knows how long. And how old is that shrimp cocktail sauce, or that funny-flavored salad dressing someone told us we had to try?
If your fridge is anything like mine, you’d be astounded by the age and variety of stuff that’s in there. The mustards alone: yellow mustard, brown mustard, French mustard, honey mustard, English mustard, English mustard with seeds, and many more, some of them older than your children.
It’s hard to throw out condiments, too. I don’t mean emotionally hard, I mean you can’t just pour them down the drain because the bottles are designed to drip out painfully slowly, one drop at a time. And I can’t recycle them as is, because our town’s recycling system requires the bottles to be empty and clean.
Also, I have a septic system. What if the different vinegars and hot sauces don’t get along down there? I know what a few drops do to my stomach; what will full bottles of this stuff do to my pipes? Wasn’t it a toxic mix of things like this that created Godzilla and Mothra? The neighbors would never forgive me if I accidentally created a house-crushing monster. They already complain when Fluffy uses their lawn by mistake, so imagine the phone calls I’d get if Godzilla did that. I’d have to change my phone number. Again. You just can’t make some people happy.
So the condiments are going in the compost heap. This might finally solve my raccoon problem.
• Jim Mullen is a syndicated columnist. Email him at email@example.com.