The Fridge of Remorse

I recently had a prolonged period without power.  Thanks, Sandy!  Life without TV, heat or lights can be challenging in more ways than one might expect.  I ended up having a minor epiphany about my place in the universe while performing one of a blackout’s more mundane tasks.

It’s not just for keeping food cold, it’s for cataloging ones failures in life. (Image of appliance from enhanced – poorly – by the author)

It turns out a Kenmore side-by-side filled with rotting food gave me pause for spiritual reflection.  I realize that’s a pretty sad commentary on my existence, but maybe it’s time we all faced the fact that maybe I’m just not that deep of a guy.

On the top shelf in the back, I found some barely-used good intentions in the form of containers of brown rice flour and blond miso among others.  They were purchased with the idea that I’d eventually start eating healthier.  The packages sat there for who-knows how long, eventually becoming hidden behind flashier, less healthy items.  With them out of sight, I could forget about my whacky ideas of good-nutrition and focus instead on finding yet another lime to put in yet another cocktail.

I fought the urge to pledge a healthier diet once life got back to normal.  A cold house, dimly lit by lilac-scented candles from the clearance bin at Bed, Bath and Beyond is not the setting for making hollow promises.  I tossed those healthy ingredients in yet another trash bag and tried to move forward, all too secure in the knowledge that I’d lied to myself and spent perfectly good tequila money on cold-pressed walnut oil that I would have never gotten around to using.

On the shelves of the door stood countless bottles and jars of funky, exotic ingredients which I used for my foodie endeavors.  At times I liken myself to some sort of chef, and when I try something new, it usually involves buying weird, dusty jars from the “International” aisle at the grocery store, or better yet, going to the Asian grocery out by the highway, and hoping for labels in English.  I have to push aside my lingering fears of inadvertently buying some sort of Malaysian Flavor-Paste which includes equal parts mercury and poison blow fish.

As often as not, my dishes are good, but not good enough to have a second time any time soon.  So my jars of fish sauce, tamarind concentrate and pomegranate molasses huddled together behind the Sriracha and stone ground mustard, in the highly unlikely event I’d ever use them a second time.  Each exotic jar was like some pathetic character actor in a repertory theater just waiting and hoping for a new play which featured a one-eyed redhead with a lisp.  Even if I did need some Thai curry paste, it’s doubtful that I’d be positive as to whether or not I actually had any at home, and I’d probably end up buying another bottle of it.  This is likely why I had three nearly full jars of horseradish to toss out.  I briefly wondered if this was how people got their starts in becoming hoarders.

That’s right; I tossed the tamarind concentrate! That stuff doesn’t grow on trees…oh wait, my bad, turns out it DOES grow on trees! (Image from

I threw out limes and  flat bottles of bitter lemon and tonic water.  Into the trash went cocktail onions, green olives stuffed with gorgonzola and a jar of something called “Tomolives”.  While I could argue that the limes are often featured in my Asian and Latin dishes, the rest of these items were nothing more than once-cold evidence of my ongoing love affair with alcohol.  My major appliance had turned into a disapproving old teetotaler, rolling her eyes and shaking her head at my sinful life choices.  I’ll admit now that I was relieved that there were no micro-brewed India Pale Ales in the fridge, becoming skunked by the lack of cool air blowing across their quirky labels.  I braced myself for the coming dark days, wherein my drinks of choice would have to be served without ice.  At least I’d be drinking alone in the dark, like a true alky.

These are beautiful, young binge drinkers – they’re not miserable old drunks who swill warm booze in the dark. (Image from

The freezer had its own share of shelves and racks filled with disappointment and regret.  To be honest, by its very nature, the freezer was already littered with emotional landmines, with Zip-Locks of unrequited love and lost opportunities.  A half-filled baggie of left-over wonton wrappers mocked me as I pulled it from the coated-wire shelf.  Bags of frozen chicken lay in silent testimony to my lack of eventually getting my money’s worth from the family-sized packages I’d bought instead of the single serving ones.  Unidentified frozen objects, no longer frozen, came into focus for what they were – forgotten, lost opportunities.  Apparently candle light does not make everything look more romantic.  The formerly frozen chunks of ginger were meant to make my cooking life easier, but were now mushy reminders of things I never got around to.  The once-frozen ginger would have been less heart-wrenching to see, had I not thrown out a slightly fuzzy hand of ginger from the crisper drawer in the refrigerator side just minutes earlier.

Suddenly, it was over.  With nothing left to toss out, I pulled out the shelves and washed them – feeling nearly as wrung out as the soapy dish towel I held.  In an emotional haze, I dried the shelves and tried to put them back into the same slots they had originally occupied, though without the food to put back in, the precise locations were less than critical.

I stood back at last and checked my work.  The doors were swung open to keep the inside from getting musty.  In the dim light of the kitchen, it looked much newer than the ten year-old I knew it to be.  Without a single thing in it, the fridge was a blank slate.  I felt my spirits rising.  If the power ever came back on, I could do it right this time, buying things that really mattered and avoiding the pitfalls which I’d just experienced.

Luckily I already know which part of the Asian market to go to to find the Malaysian Flavor-Paste.

32 thoughts on “The Fridge of Remorse

  1. Ha! We have a kitchen full of good intentions. Right now I’m going through the “I’m not buying groceries until we eat some of this weird healthy shit”. My husband said that he was taking my daughter to taekwondo, but I smelled Subway when I used the car next. Good luck on your fresh start!

  2. This is FAB! And for your info, I was determined to save my chutneys and by gawd, I did. I eeked out the last finger of frost from my freezer ( before the power went out, I froze bottles of water ) and put the chutney jars in to cool. At the final hour of chutney viability and when all else had either been cooked or tossed into the can, the power came back on. Now the only thing I have in my freezer is that freaking giant turkey I got for ‘free’ from Shoprite and a box of salmon burgers. Like you, I’m looking it all over and taking my time.

  3. I always wondered how my good intention food got pushed to the back, never to be seen again. I think you uncovered something very serious …. food gangs. As I close the doors I will now envision the set of West Side Story.

  4. Is pomegranate mollasses a real thing? It sounds equal parts gross and intriguing. I’m sorry you had to do this.. I can only imagine what weirdness lurks in my own fridge..

    1. Pomegranate mollasses is very much a real thing. I made it myself from pomegranate juice, then later used it for a batch of BBQ sauce which was exquisite. Then I put it in a jar and let it get pushed tot he back of the fridge, never to be seen again, until Sandy…

  5. For a guy, I guess I am a bit anal but was well “trained” by my parents to periodically purge the fridge and wipe it down. It is actually a good thing as I go through the same turmoil that you did with all the various things that I bought and never really used. I must say though that I am always well stocked with capers for cooking and large chewy olives for that occasional vodka martini. Glad you pulled through without real loss or injury. jt

  6. When I get the urge for Asian, I go to a great Thai restaurant and eat at the Martini bar. I’ve thrown away too many of the items you mention. My fridge may look anemic but I don’t. Another clever and entertaining post although some of it seemed to be tinged with sadness.

  7. Oh Dave, your journey through the exotic/seldom-used Condiments of Life is a metaphor for my own, sorry path of good intentions. You speak truth to my fridge.

  8. Wait what’s wrong with drinking warm booze in the dark? In high school I had a 30 pack in my trunk at all times (parties can happen anywhere). So instead of waiting for it to cool in the fridge, I often drank boiling hot beer. At no point in time did I think that was sad or pathetic. That’s just called party trunk.

  9. We did not lose power. Everyone on Long Island lost power except for us. So I actually felt a little guilty. In the meantime, my in-laws brought over all their food remnants, and I gotta tell you… Those two eat a LOT of olives. I think they must just sit around all day entertaining James Bond. FIVE JARS. The rest of the stuff they brought over was normal stuff, apples, grapes, milk, eggs, bread… but you can learn a fair amount about people just from peeking in their fridge, medicine cabinet, and nightstand. Seriously. Always check the nightstand.

    The end of this post is actually what I love about purging. I hate cleaning, but when I’ve really thoroughly purged, there is that feeling like I’m ready to take on the world much lighter. We’re moving in a few weeks, and it’s always hard to throw out the kid’s stuff so I’m going to have to remind myself about this…

      1. Yeah, I hear that. My kid’s teacher went 16 days without power. When our son told her that we lost our internet/cable connection… she was not impressed. A dozen cold showers will do that.

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