Saturday, October 30, 2004

Secrets of the Pantry

In an older episode of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw and friends discuss 'secret single behavior,' things women indulge in but don't want their significant others to know. Carrie admitted to standing at the kitchen counter while eating a stack of Saltines with grape jelly and reading Vogue; Miranda liked to put Vaseline on her hands and cover them with thermal moisturizing gloves whle watching infomercials; and Charlotte spent an hour examining her pores in a magnifying mirror. Me, I like to clean out the pantry.

John works one Saturday a month, leaving me a full day to myself. I considered working on an unfinished blanket that had been languishing on a pair of knitting needles, finishing the latest David Sedaris novel, or going for a run in Golden Gate Park. All tempting, but I had been champing at the bit to clean the pantry.

The first thing I did was to take all the food out of the refrigerator, dismantle the shelves and drawers, and scrub them in soapy hot water. I tossed out a chunk of forgotten mozzarella that had grown fuzzy. I then made a small pile of vegetables, herbs and other salvageable items on the verge of spoilage.

Moving on to the pantry, I sorted through canisters of rice, pasta and beans. I went through my baking supplies to make sure that flours and sugars were still fresh. I made an inventory of the chocolate jar. I smelled my spices to make sure they were still potent. And I checked for any rancid nuts.

After wiping down shelves and transferring items to new jars, I turned my attention to a slightly old tomato, an ophaned clove of garlic and a few leaves of basil sitting on the counter. I returned to the pantry to retrieve some spaghetti, an amount too small to warrant saving in a canister.

I gently sauteed minced garlic and diced tomato in some olive oil while the pasta cooked. When the spaghetti was al dente, I tossed it into the olive oil with some torn basil and a little salt. I took my lunch to the living room, where I turned on the television to indulge in the Saturday cooking programs on PBS.

Making lunch from some over-the-hill produce doesn't seem like much of an indulgence, but spending time alone, doing as you please, is. I also rewarded my virtuous thrift and labor with a square of El Rey chocolate I found in the chocolate jar. I tell myself that John wouldn't have missed it.

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