A little game called “food safety”

Growing up in the Great Depression drove Mom into Mega-Packrat Overdrive.  None of us worried about international logistical meltdown and food shortages as the “Y2K” crisis loomed.  Mom had enough food stored to feed a small European nation*.  Not to mention toilet paper, light bulbs, cat litter and Tupperware containers from the 1960’s.  We weren’t scared.  The bunker was ready.

There is, however, the challenge of the “use by” date.  Mom’s definition of “it’s still good” is a liberal interpretation to say the least**.  We generally exercise caution when going on a “munchie expedition” in the house.  This is complicated by the fact that we were raised on junk food and candy, and even as adults, will instinctively root through the house as soon as we enter, our little “lizard brains” forcing us to seek sugary, chocolaty goodness.  Not unlike zombies on a quest for tasty brains.

Today, upon return from the cardiologist, both T and i were in full “munchie” overdrive.  She went through all the usual candy hiding places, but came up empty.  Between DQ, Jr discovering most of the candy caches, and the fact that Mom hasn’t been out shopping in many months, the cupboards were bare.  We got desperate.  While DQ and i were beating through the new medication dosing schedule, T went to the refrigerator in the garage, and returned with a giant Ghiradelli chocolate bar and a box of foil-wrapped Christmas chocolates.

T:  Do you think these are still good?

daisyfae & DQ (in unison):  Whoa!  Careful – if there’s white stuff on the chocolate, don’t eat it!

Mom: It’s fine!  It’s been in the refrigerator.  Chocolate doesn’t go bad***.

T (sniffing foil-wrapped chocolates):  Smells ok…

daisyfae:  You first.  If you don’t die, we’ll be right behind you!

T (nibbling chocolate):  It’s ok.  How about the chocolate bar? (unwrapping the bar, revealing a leprous, ‘undead’ surface…)

daisyfae:  Wouldn’t risk it.

T (returning from second trip to the garage):  Hey!  I found this box of Pettit Fours!  Think they’re ok?

daisyfae:  i love those!  i’ll try one if they don’t stink… 

Sniffing it, there was a pleasant, chocolatey aroma.  Encouraged, i took a healthy bite.  The fucking thing exploded into dust in my mouth!  It was beyond dessicated.  i spit it into my hand – while T, DQ and Mom laughed their asses off…

T:  Well, it had a date on it – i think it was like 2002 or something… (more laughter)

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* Perhaps two or three if they are in Eastern Europe… provisions probably still go further there.

** Mom has a 7′ long chest freezer in her utility room.  It could easily hold three dead bodies, perhaps five if they are efficiently processed.  It was last opened perhaps 10 years ago – and she produced meat that was freezer wrapped and dated 1971.  Mom ate a piece of zucchini bread from the mid-70’s and pronounced it “a little dry, but not bad!”  On one of our many attempts to de-clutter the house, we weren’t sure it was even running – making the prospect of removal that much more frightening.  i took a stethescope to it, and determined that the compressor was still running.  We may yet tackle the “freezer removal” this year… Stay tuned.  Excavation of the contents is certain to yield at least one blog post…  i know there are archeological food treasures that we could sell on eBay.  Perhaps “Antiques Roadshow”…

*** Mom also told us later that “meat doesn’t go bad as long as it’s been frozen”.  DQ then told us that she had to intercept a batch of frozen *green* hot dogs that Mom sent home with DQ, Jr. last year.  Barbeque, anyone?