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10 signs that you might be a food hoarder

I recently moved to a new flat in Sea Point, which, while incredible in other respects, has a teeny tiny kitchen. It has a single sink, so if you don’t wash everything immediately the situation becomes untenable; those horrible hinged corner cupboards that open like giraffes trying to take a drink at the water hole; and only enough space for one person to stand in the centre comfortably (two if your partner has not-too-pointy elbows and is tolerant of being jabbed in the shins by concertina cupboard doors).

The new space taught me many things. I learnt a new, elbows-in chopping style, I learnt the joys of washing up as you go, and I learnt something quite alarming about myself: I am an incorrigible food hoarder. As I suspect I may not be alone in this, I have compiled this helpful checklist for you to check whether you, too, are a hoarder of comestibles. Awareness is the first step to a cure.

1. You have 11 different kinds of vinegar

Red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, white vinegar, three bottles of Balsamic vinegar (a cheapie, an Italian job and something with a really pretty container), a red wine vinegar reduction, a Balsamic vinegar reduction, something that’s infused with green tea, and another with lavender. Aside from one or two, none have been opened in a year. They are all essential, though.

2. You have enough oils and fats to open a small KFC outlet

Coconut oil may have joined the fray relatively recently, but it was greeted by an already comprehensive array of fats and oils. Your olive oil selection includes single varietals, local and European blends, and at least one that’s infused with truffle oil. You owned a jar of lard long before Tim Noakes told you it was a good idea.

One day.

One day.

3. There is mustard powder in your cupboard

Mustard powder? Really?

Mustard powder? Really?

4. Your spice cupboard is an historical document of your life

For instance, it contains a bottle of cloves from the British supermarket Asda. While this might seem unremarkable to some, those who know you will know that you last lived in the UK in 1999, and that when you did live there, you shopped at Tesco, not Asda. It was your friend Judith who gave you her leftover spices when she left the UK sometime around 1995.

5. Your fridge contains an entire shelf for jars

Amongst these, you can find strawberry preserve, pineapple preserve, beetroot relish, jalapeño relish, aubergine relish, sundried tomato pesto, peach jam, miso paste and fig preserve. All are delicious; all were purchased at food markets where they tasted incredible on those little cubes of dried up bread; exactly zero have seen the light of day since entering the fridge.

The army of jars grew dissatisfied with their working conditions and mounted a rebellion.

The army of jars grew dissatisfied with their working conditions and mounted a rebellion.

6. You own chicken spice

You own this condiment, but it’s vague, yet prescriptive name strikes fear into your heart. What spices are in there? Can I use it to spice pork? Is it not too obvious to use it on chicken? Will it make my chicken taste more chicken-y? What is it FOR? Might need it one day, though…

Toby has questions, regarding your spice choices.

Toby has questions, regarding your spice choices.

7. Your freezer looks like something in Elsa’s castle in Frozen

You are too scared to open – or unable to identify – some of the items in your freezer. You can no longer read the labels on the packaging due to a snow-like covering on most of the meat, which you purchased in a pre-loadshedding era, when it was safe, nay prudent, to stock one’s fridge for a rainy day.

Let it go!

Let it go!

8. Your selection of hot beverages necessitates the use of a dedicated tea cupboard

And even though that strawberry tea tastes not nearly as good as it smells, and the cinnamon in the chai tea makes you cough, you are unable to throw out any of these items.

Despite looking beautiful, the jasmine tea turned out to taste precisely like dish water.

Despite looking beautiful, the jasmine tea turned out to taste precisely like dish water.

9. You have more than one bottle of vanilla essence

Baking soda (circa 2001) is also plentiful. You have not baked since you found out you were gluten intolerant in 2004.

But just imagine all the delicious things you might, one day bake! (They will obviously be a lot flatter than this though, because the baking powder will be 25 years old.)

But just imagine all the delicious things you might, one day bake! (They will obviously be a lot flatter than this though, because the baking powder will be 25 years old.)

10. You own a jar of capers and a jar of anchovies

You do not like anchovies, nor do you fancy capers.

A beautiful piece of fish, spoiled.

A beautiful piece of fish, spoiled.

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