“Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too.” — Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea
I am holding the refrigerator door open. Not that it needs holding. My hand on the door makes the act of looking at the food on its shelves feel more active. It mutes the memories of my mother’s voice telling me to hurry up and stop wasting energy.
I tell myself to focus. The only thing I have registered is that it has food in it.
I start scanning the top shelf. Yesterday’s leftover beef. My systematic review breaks down at the next item, the yogurt. Do I have butter? Yes. Cheese? Gruyère and Epoisses. There are chicken fillets but I don’t have mushrooms. The tagliatelle would go down really well with that. Still, no mushrooms.
No ground beef either. That rules out making a chili. What other canned goods do I have? I close the refrigerator and go the cupboards. I push the red beans to the side and pick up the garbanzo beans. Hummus? I want warm food … maybe … shit, no lemons. Lentils, canned tomatoes, tuna? No, no, and no. NOT inspiring. I arrange the cans by size. I stare at them blankly, mentally checking through what I’d seen in refrigerator looking for a combination, hoping for an idea. I stop when the seconds that have passed feel like forever.
I open the other cupboard. Flour, corn meal, cream of wheat, pasta. The staples are all there, ideas for an appetizing use of them aren’t.
I go back to the refrigerator. The chicken is good for another three days. The accra has ten days before its use-by date. Nothing needs to be used. I close the door.
Meatless chili? I remember my mother liked announcing that we were going to eat chili sin carne.