I think all food should be more like ice cream.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. Or has ever eaten ice cream.
But I'm not actually talking about the taste of the stuff now, nor the texture, nor the cool refreshing temperature, so frosty and refreshing on a brisk winter's morn
(Oh, like you've ever tried it. You don't know.)
Rather, I'm talking about packaging. Specifically, package labeling -- and super-duper Rocky Road-ly specifically, about package dating. Because ice cream has the dating thing down, yo. And the other foodstuffs around this joint could learn a lesson or two.
Take my wieners, for instance. I've got a package of Oscar Meyer in the fridge right now that's almost done. Only two hot dogs remain, resting in their little slimy wienersleeves, waiting to be eaten.
But can I eat them? No. I cannot. For right on the package, in black stamped letters, it says:
ENJOY BEFORE APRIL 12 2013
Well, Mr. Meyer, I did that. I enjoyed several of your bun sausages before that date, as instructed. But here lie these stragglers. Two lonely weens, past their prime and with no potato rolls to hold them. I can't turn back the calendar, and the instructions are clear. So into the bin they go. Farewell, poor wieners. We hardly knew ye.
Or what about the jar of capers that's been sitting in the back of the fridge since the Clinton administration? I'd be perfectly happy to use those -- if only I knew what capers were for. Or what they were. Or where that jar had come from. I didn't buy it. My best guess is that the refrigerator grew it a while back, when we weren't looking. Like a skin tag, only pickled and tasting like artichoke turds.
"In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I haven't actually tasted a lot of skin tags."
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I haven't actually tasted a lot of skin tags. Maybe yours do taste pickled and artichokey. In which case, good luck with that.)
The point is, even if I wanted to use them, I couldn't. Because right there on the jar, in machine-stamped robot font it clearly reads:
USE BY SEPTEMBER 30 2004
And in this, apparently, I've also failed. The pressure of these culinary deadlines is tremendous -- I wasn't even aware this one was coming up. Back, you know, when it came up. Nine years ago. Give or take an artichoke.
Frankly, I think some sort of warning system is needed for such things. When your capers are about to... uh, unshrivel, or depickle, or whatever the hell it is they do to go bad, you should get an email or something from the caper company. A reminder. It's not like it's not feasible -- there are flower companies out there telling me when my great-uncle's birthday is coming up, and collection agencies who seem to know precisely how overdue the cable bill is. Get the grocery people in the loop, is all I'm saying. Send me a Capergram, for crissakes. I'll chug the things, if that's what it takes. I just need to know.
Luckily, ice cream is not so high-maintenance. After dinner tonight, I was peckish for a bit of dessert, and rummaged around the freezer to find a half-pint of the good stuff tucked in the back by the forgotten icy peas. I don't recall seeing it before -- we probably bought it (and forgot it) to take to some birthday party or housewarming or ice fishing blowout. Who knows how long it's been in there, spooning forgotten frozen dinners and last millennium's microwave burritos? But still it was safe to eat, and the bottom of the tub itself said so:
PURCHASE BY AUGUST 22 2011
Now, I don't know how long it's been in there. But I'm confident we bought it before August 2011. It had to be that long, at least, just from the amount of ice I had to chip off the thing to extract it from the shelf. And that's the only thing it said -- not 'use by' or 'discard before' or 'will make you hurl explosively after'. Just 'purchase by'.
And I did. So I ate it. And it was delicious, and only tasted a little bit like old peas and petrified refried beans. And that's why all these other foods could learn a valuable lesson from ice cream. Tasty, silky ice cream. Not so strict with the rules ice cream. My once and always favorite food -- ice cream.
Yep. That's the good stuff, all right.
Did I mention I don't feel so great tonight? Yeah. This looks like it may not end well.
Frankly, I blame the capers.