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Saturday, May 22, 2010

In the Pantry with Mr. FS: The Dark Forest

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Oh, those beautiful first lines of Dante's Inferno.

Now in the middle of our life
I awoke in a dark forest
For the straight path had been lost

To go from the mountain that is Dante to the molehill that is my life (OUR life, which we are in the middle of) is to go from the lofty thoughts with which I should be occupying myself to the selva oscura that is my pantry.

Mr. FS has taken it upon himself to reorganize what is a medium-sized, misshapen closet. When we moved into our house, the pantry was empty, and truly we had hardly anything to put in it. Fast forward to now and there is food of all sorts, cookbooks of the second rank, and Mr. FS's household tools. Oh yeah, and brooms. And work clothes (not for me, for Mr. FS).

I'm trying to avert my gaze. I did notice some Crosse and Blackwell mincemeat that I bought for a quarter several years ago. And some tea that a student gave me. And some English pudding given to me by--this is true--a cross-dressed attendee at a library program on Queen Elizabeth I that I led with a colleague. (This is funny because Queen Elizabeth herself was noted for her genderbending strategies.) Easy enough to throw the expired mincemeat in the trash. Not so easy to trash the sundried tomato relish that MUST be outdated because I can't even remember where I got it. Mr. FS said he threw several things out. He won't tell me what, however.

Mr. FS made some new shelves that will hold dishpans--the kind you get for $1.00. These are the cheapest organizing equipment. They will be labeled by cuisine, type of cooking, type of food: Mexican, Asian, tuna, baking needs, and so on. We had done this earlier, but with the passage of time, the tuna ended up under something else, and the old, should-be-thrown-out food was hidden behind the newer stuff.

Don't I sound reasonable? Like Dante, who travelled for a while with his beloved Virgil, reason is what you need for your journey through the dark places--like pantries.

But then I come to my cookbooks. Reason wavers. To turn to another mountain, John Donne, we learn

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.

Donne is talking about admitting God into his life; I, in the molehill version, am trying to restore (let's be honest, initiate) order in a pantry.

Has everyone else finished spring cleaning? I will post updates on my journey through the pantry.


Anonymous said...

Spring cleaning is still on my To Do List. One of these years .....

Shelley said...

I must admit to never having actually done 'spring cleaning' the way you read about it in ... Louisa May Alcott...books about housekeeping (v. entertaining, those)...organising blogs. Nor do I personally know anyone who has done this. I occasionally clear out a closet or a drawer or re-arrange furniture and clean in the process. In my recent life, spring as been for marathon training, tax preparation, gardening or taking vacations before the leave year ends in early April (the FY here in Britain). I hate throwing out food, too, and I'm pretty casual about dates, but if I've not used it in years, I have to be honest that it's likely not going to happen.

Duchesse said...

Are not those lines among the most evocative ever?

Unlike our pantry where certain people collect exotic honeys that then dribble down the sides of their jars, welding themselves to the shelves. But I digress. More Dante, less Pantry.

PS the verification word is 'quarlit', which can only be a quarrel about literature.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Alienne--Oh I don't do spring cleaning either. (Note that my husband was cleaning the pantry). I was just trying to use a popularly understood term.

@Shelley--See above!

@Duchesse--We had several cans of 4 year outdated food. But NO dripping honey. I feel better already.

Funny about Money said...

Ma che brava! Here's what it is about literature: It brings our lives into the light of greatness...cuomo Dante, our pantries lead us to the untried paths.

Ma vita is a selva oscura. LOL! It's been a long journey. Isn't God our feeble effort to bring order to the universe, as to our pantries? ;-)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--Yes, life IS an allegory.