FoodStuff - New Year cleanup

By John Lethlean
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John Lethlean, culinary critic

John Lethlean, culinary critic

 Oh well. The fridge was due for a good hard looking at anyway; a taking to task for its ergonomic sloth, which has nothing to do with the fact that, far from observing the “everything in its place” dictum, when it comes to refrigeration, any available spare cubic centimetre inside the big white box will do just fine, as far as I’m concerned.

Push, slam, and hope.

This is why things get lost in there, apparently. It’s a personality type and it’s called “untidy.” It’s only detectable to half the population – like the smell of asparagus in urine (true) – and I’ll let you guess which half.

A power failure while we were sunning ourselves out of town brought on the situation, really. Can I blame the possums? Is this claimable on the household insurance? Anyway, the entire contents of the fridge had to be chucked, which led to one or two “I didn’t know we had any of that left” moments. It was an amusing reminiscence, kind of. And maybe a little embarrassing at times. It was also a terrible waste.

I started with the freezer.

Baker’s yeast, for pizza: an essential, and apparently the freezer’s the spot for it once open. Once-frozen chillies: how often do you buy a packet, use two, and then throw out the rest when they’re black and yucky? I still do that, of course, but the frozen version is good to have when you discover the fresh ones have turned to red/black slush in the vegie box.

An egg white in a Peter Rabbit egg cup: egg whites work really well after freezing, apparently. I’ll never know. And what would I do with single egg white anyway?

Parsley stalks, for making stock, and a wasted tub of my chicken stock, too. Mouldy party pies (okay, there were mini dim sims, sausage and spring rolls, and fish fingers there too, with ready-to-bake potato wedges, which we all rather like). And coriander roots, because so often you buy a bunch, the recipe says pound the roots, and guess what? They’ve been cut off.

Several different types of sliced sourdough, now looking just plain sour. And other breads too: “plastic” white slice for school sangers, buns of various dubious content. And vegie-rich bog sauce, the universal standby of parents whose sons won’t eat anything green on principle.

Lots of very whiffy chicken fillets and mouldy fruit (mango cheeks, blueberries, raspberries).

And a disgusting substance once known as (very) commercial ice cream alongside some less disgusting former ice in plastic trays.

The more curious stuff was down below (this is a conventional-format fridge we’re talking about here, none of your new fangled upside down freezers at the bottom.)

Not a lot to be too proud of in the cheese department: mozzarella (again, for pizza) Bega tasty in several formats, Baby Bel and assorted soft, semi-commercial Australian cheeses trying to replicate French originals that were bought for my daughter. Honest. I’d rather eat the Bega. 

Contact lens liquid and allergy eye drops (most of the medicines were kept in the booze fridge, the contents of which were mercifully merely warm, not ruined).

Minced ginger, Dijon mustard, horseradish cream, a jar of preserved lemon from the school fete, marinated “fetta” (not real fetta, sorry, but so-called Australian fetta made with cow’s milk.)

Tapenade, chilli tomato chutney, Ocha restaurant salad dressing (of course), “fire roasted” whole peppers, Cottees lime cordial, tomato paste… And something mysterious and wet simply called “Asian Fusion.” Ah, the rubbish people send with their Press Releases.

Tomato and orange juice, milk. Well, it was milk a few days ago.

Best’s mayo, “medium salsa chunky dip”, dried cranberries, pickled garlic (it’s a Thai thing), tomatoes from tomato bottling, a jar of unidentifiable chutney (possibly from the same bottling), leftover coconut cream, olive oil “spread”, green chilli jam, poached plums (commercial), tahini, Bruschetta topping (again from the school fete) raspberry jam, orange marmalade, black bean garlic sauce, orange marmalade (home made, somewhere) red onion marmalade, more tomato chutney, honey, more chutney, quince paste, marinated artichoke hearts, caperberries, tamarind pulp and more bloody chutney. I don’t even like the stuff.

And that was the top shelf.

There was diet yoghurt, Bega slices, peach, ginger and almond jam, a tub of two-fruits (a hangover from childhood), sliced ham, chicken mix for sandwiches, panforte, home made salami (this was a very sad loss, and I wish I could tell you who made it, but his vegetarian boss might sack him) green curry paste, Ski D’lite “wild” (give me a break) strawberry yoghurt, actual strawberries (not wild in the slightest), raisin bread (commercial muck) and butter.


Grapes, more Bega, more spread, anchovies in oil, more Ski, a piece of commercial salami, English muffins, more commercial poached fruits and bacon. Cucumber, more butter, sliced mushrooms, more spread, iceberg lettuce, dog bones (I cannot tell you what they smelt like), pita bread and, finally, the rather soft contents of the veg drawers.

Carrots, rocket, celery, mushy baby chillies (of course).

What a mess. And what would a nutritionist make of that?

The lesson, of course, is obvious. Empty the fridge before you go away. Or get a backup generator (a little extreme). Or just be sanguine about it and treat the situation as a message from above: clean out your fridge, it’s full of crap!

I’m going with the latter.

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January 12th, 2010
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