When my husband and I moved into my parents’ house a few weeks ago (yes, after a safe quarantine period), I had initially thought the hardest adjustment would be figuring out how we could all work from home without ringing each other’s necks. But in reality, all of our issues gravitated toward one location: the refrigerator. In particular, what went in it and what stayed out.
The day after we arrived, my husband and I helped my mom organize the fridge in the garage, which had been packed with the enthusiasm of a doomsdayer. A sack of potatoes in the produce drawer? Those could sit out. Oranges, lemons and limes? Remove those stickers, place them in a bowl and suddenly you have a lazy person’s centerpiece. Onions? Give those bad boys some room on the kitchen island. Et voila! There’s now extra space in the fridge for things that really need to be in it.
My mom was thrilled with our organizational achievement, but when she saw the fruit and produce that had been booted from their cool, cozy homes, she wasn’t as ecstatic. We went back and forth a of couple times, “Really? No fridge?” she’d inquire, hoping to hear a different answer from me. I was dead set on keeping those oranges in that bowl, but every time she passed my sweet little masterpiece, I could tell it was torturing her.
In my heart, I believed that this was not a personal issue, but a generational one: Baby boomers refrigerate everything because they grew up with the advent of the modern, exalted appliance. Why leave perishables out to go bad when you could pop it in a thermally insulated storage unit?