Given my nationality and the looming prospect of the inevitable descent into winter, you may be fearing that this post will degenerate into a discussion of the weather. Well, other than a chilly spell last week, it remains pretty mild: so the air is far from frigid, though it has been hurled at the denizens of South Cambridgeshire with more than normal force these last few days. OK, I feel that covers expectations – so now I can wander off at a tangent with a clear conscience.
This post will instead handle one of my favourite subjects: food. As has been mentioned before, while at home I am mostly vegetarian – and becoming more so (though if required, fish and shellfish can still be re-classified as vegetables). As a result, my house contains quite large quantities of fruit and vegetables (though, I do know of those who pursue a vegetarian diet without much use of either fruit or veg). Given their perishable nature, this does place some strain on my refrigerator. At this point, I should come clean and admit that my fridge is a CBA rather than a Frigidaire – but the latter brand furnished a much better post title.
For historic reasons, I feel the need to keep as much of this fruit and veg in the crisper section at the base of my fridge as possible – though, now that I think about it, I have no idea if this is in any way beneficial. The typical fridge (of which mine is a minor example) is much taller than it is wide – but for those in need of crisper space, the reverse would be a much better bet. As a result of its conventional design, my crisper is always dreadfully over full – and edibles from the kingdoms of both plants and fungi spill out into the main body of the fridge. This does tend to increase food wastage, as items from the crisper equivalent of the pre-Cambrian can be “lost” and so manage to spoil before they can be eaten (despite this, I should imagine that my food waste is a good few standard deviations from the mean, on the “good” side of the distribution). Even when not lost to my digestive system, the over-crowding often necessitates an extended search for the desired item – which can’t be doing my electricity consumption any favours.
Reading the sticker on a Waitrose aubergine (oh yes, I have money to burn), while bored recently, revealed the interesting fact that it should not be stored in the fridge at all (as, I regret to say, its many predecessors had been). I have no idea why this should be so, but it did allow a small volume to be reclaimed in my crisper – though at the cost of a corresponding loss of volume in the fruit bowl.
I also vaguely recall reading that keeping tomatoes in the fridge destroys some essential benefit that their consumption would otherwise impart. The tomato is the love fruit so perhaps the fridge is cooling their ardour. I suppose the late Nancy Mitford would know, having written on Love in a Cold Climate.
But, other than these two fruits – everything else still wants a piece of my fridge. Surely other vegetarians with a decent appetite must exist? I wonder how they solve this storage problem? Or do they eschew fresh food, and rely largely on tinned and dried goods for their provender?
Perhaps it is time for me to develop (and later market) my new fridge for the discerning vegetarian: one where the crisper makes up a much large proportion of its total useable volume? Yes, I am planning to bring the world the chest fridge. No, not an aid for those with an overly warm embonpoint but a device inspired by the well proven chest freezer: after all, the two devices are basically the same (it’s just a matter of degree(s) – or the lack thereof). The chest fridge would, I suppose, also necessitate some re-design of the traditional kitchen layout – but I can see clear benefits when coupled with a freezer to create the chest fridge freezer. The combined device would be low enough in height (a) to benefit the shorter user and (b) leave room for more traditional storage either above or below depending on the height, flexibility and preferences of the user.
Vegetables are generally cheaper than meat – or so Katherine Whitehorn informed via the medium of print back in the mid 80s – so veggies should have higher disposable income available to spend on a new kitchen. I really think I could be on to a winner here. Coming soon to an out-of-town retail park near (but not very near) you: Fish Kitchens! (The similar Kitch Fishing will have to await further development and a later post.)