Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sugar and spice, flour and rice

There's not room for another crumb in my larder cupboard
My 17-year-old daughter was invited to stay at a college friend's house overnight on Friday. She had a really good time, however she couldn't help noticing one big difference in the way our two households operate.

The friend's mother does the household shopping once a week, on a Friday. She buys sufficient food to last a week. By Thursday, meal options are vastly reduced. On Friday, in my daughter's words, 'When she says they have empty cupboards, they have empty cupboards'. 

She laughed. 'It's insane, mum.'

I think she was talking about my approach, because having empty cupboards at the end of the week is not insane. Using restraint in the supermarket is a perfectly sensible and admirable way to live. It means food doesn't go out of date, that you can actually find what you're looking for in the fridge, freezer or cupboards and that you don't have to crawl under the bed to check what you're hoarding underneath every fortnight or so.

I really wish I could adopt the 'go shopping when the cupboards are empty' approach.

Only four boxes of food remain under the bed
Yesterday, I spent (wasted) half an hour reducing the number of cardboard boxes under my bed from eight to four. Cardboard boxes full of non-perishable foodstuffs: BOGOFs, special offers, discount shopping, bargains that'll be anything but if they never get eaten.

I transferred lots of items to my over-flowing larder cupboard (I can still remember my excitement when the kitchen fitter constructed it back in January 2011 - yes really!). It was a bit of a squash but somehow I managed to ram in more rice, flour, packet sauce mixes and tinned biscuits.. oh, and some (actually lots) of long-life naan bread. And crisps. 

As I stood on a high stool rummaging around at the back of the top shelf, I spotted four bags of flour I'd forgotten all about. Hang on, weren't there another four bags of flour stashed under the bed, sandwiched neatly between six packets of creamed coconut, various cake mixes and numerous packets dried onions? At the last count, there were nearly thirty curry sauces in this house. 

Four packets of mixed seed wholemeal stuffing?
You're probably getting the idea by now. Where food is concerned I've always adopted a hamster mentality. A website for hamster owners explains how they 'are natural hoarders and are notorious for stockpiling their food'. It adds, 'their... precious food supply has been painstakingly stored for future use... removing the hamsters' food hoard completely may cause the animal to become anxious'. The analogy stops there, I should add, because hamsters are prone to urinating on their food store to show who it belongs to!

I blame my genes; I come from a family of food hoarders. My late mother kept a shopping list on the kitchen noticeboard. When any foodstuff was used - a tin of tomatoes, a curry sauce, a bag of frozen chips - it was automatically added to the list so it could be replaced on the next shopping trip. I don't recall us ever running out of anything. My father, now nearly 80, lives alone but could probably feed a small regiment for several weeks.

Me? I could invite the whole British Army to a Come Dine With Me evening!

My intentions are always honorable. I pop to the supermarket carrying the shortest of lists  - fresh fruit and vegetables, some croissants, a French stick and half a dozen eggs - and invariably emerge an hour later clutching several large holdalls.

Wales' introduction of the carrier bag charge in October 2011 has just made things worse. Forget those flimsy, useless carrier bags that disintegrated halfway down the garden path. Now we all have wonderfully sturdy, cavernous shopping bags in the car boot, it's much less hassle to transport large amounts of shopping from car to house.
Summer 2012 wasn't great for camping
Last summer, we had lots of camping planned so I went a little bit mad on the instant packet mixes. Pasta meals and savoury rice... perfect for quick meals, grab ten of each. Curry sauces... adding a touch of spiciness to the campfire feast. Dried onions, tins of chili, spicy sauces... dare I admit it, there's even a very large box of noodles under the desk in our study.

The summer of 2012 is best forgotten. The BBC's Science/Environment section claims April and June were the wettest since monthly records began and the period April-to-June 2012 was the wettest spring ever. 

As you can imagine, we didn't get an awful lot of camping done despite completing Harri's Day Walks in the Brecon Beacons for Vertebrate Publishing. No campfire, no burning desire to eat salty, dried, convenience food. Most of it remains uneaten and under the bed.

So I've decided it's got to stop. It's time to rebrand. The Walker's Wife is a cuddly hamster no more. It's time to transform into a sleek and majestic jaguar, planning no further ahead than the next mouth-watering meal. 

Please tell me it's normal to keep noodles in the study
She will repeat the mantra, 'One should to eat to live, not live to eat' and frequently remind herself that it is immoral to hoard food while there are people starving in the world.

My daughter reckons we've got enough food in this house to last for three months... well,, not for much longer!

1 comment:

  1. 'One should to eat to live, not live to eat'. While I mostly agree with the sentiments I would argue that it is even more immoral not to enjoy food while there are people starving in the world.


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