Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Condiment Conundrum

Are condiments clogging your refrigerator (and/or cabinets and/or pantry), taking up valuable shelf space?

Do you have three different kinds of mustard, all of them at various levels of fullness (or emptiness), which you can't remember when you bought, taking up space on the shelves in your refrigerator door?

How about half-empty containers of ketchup? And salsa? And hot sauce? Perhaps some mayonnaise? Or maple syrup? Maybe a half-empty jar of olives (which is technically not a condiment, but work with me) or some soy sauce?

(I'll wait here while you go check your fridge. Though let's get real. You don't really need to check your fridge, cause you know you do.)

Do you remember when you bought all of these condiments? Any of them? Yet when is the last time you threw away a half-empty jar of mustard... or ketchup... or hot sauce, or checked to see if it was past the expiration date?

You can't remember, can you? Why? Probably because a) "I can't be bothered. I have enough sh*t to worry about"; b) "I hate to waste food, even condiments. And those things are supposed to last forever, right?" or c) "Yeah, and you know what will happen the second I throw that stuff out? Somebody's going to want it, and I'm going to have to run out to the supermarket."

And don't get me started about spices.

(I spent hours the other day actually sorting through our spice cabinet, or at least two shelves of it, tossing age-old spices and organizing the remaining jars, many of which we had two, or more, of, alphabetically. Only to have the teenager muck it all up days later. Sigh.)

Welcome to... The Condiment Conundrum, where we allow condiments to take over our lives, or our refrigerators (and cabinets or pantries). Yet for some reason, we are unable to throw out any of them (even when we move... or die*).

Why is this, fellow Americans? I would really like to know. And do Europeans and Asians suffer from the same condiment issues? 

Please let me know your thoughts via the Comments.

*True story: My father, a bachelor for over 30 years, was famous, or infamous, for the contents of fridge, which consisted of several bottles of Champagne, a bag (or two) of Pepperidge Farm Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, cantaloupe and grapefruit halves, and jar upon jar of condiments. When he died suddenly, and I had to clean out his apartment, even though he was dead, I found it difficult to throw out all the condiments.


John Barker said...

Horseradish Sauce. 4 years, unopened.

Dave S. said...

Like most people we use condiments for safe eating, so our fridge has the usual assortment, plus the optimistically half-full jars of olives, pickles etc.

With two children in the house ketchup does not stick around for long. As someone who has never liked ketchup it's pretty appalling to watch.

Dave Barry and Gene Weingarten are both on record as militant proponents of the belief that neither mustard nor ketchup need to be refrigerated. I am not making that up.

J. said...

@JohnBarker, clearly you don't eat gefilte fish. Or you need to make some cocktail sauce. ;-) (Every few years around Passover, it seems, I wind up buying horseradish, to go with my mother-in-law's delicious gefilte fish, and wind up throwing it out after barely using it.)

@DaveS., I have heard, or read, about not refrigerating ketchup, as you are not supposed to refrigerate tomatoes. But I can't bring myself to do it. Hadn't heard about not refrigerating mustard. (In any case, both our ketchup and mustard supply are probably long overdue for replacement.)