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Wrestling with the Pandemic Panic Purchases

Photo by Susan Mark
You would think my most absurd pandemic panic purchase of nearly a year ago would have been the 24 cans of kippered herring. No, that honor goes to the pineapple.

I haven't seen the inside of a store since April, when I was grabbing frantically at the Sam's Club shelves with the scan and go app running. No one knew how bad it could get, but stories circulated that food chains might be disrupted. 

One goal was to find any kind of canned fruit or veggie we would eat since we tend to live on plant matter. Sadly, there are few I can stomach, so when I spotted the giant box of pineapple, I went for it. The box went on the shelf with the French cut green beans and the beets in preparation for an apocalypse.

And stayed on the shelf... and stayed on the shelf, forgotten and forlorn. The apocalypse never descended into empty produce bins.

Even in normal times, our house is fit for seven years of famine.* Even with only two of us we're stocked to the gills with dried beans, pasta, tomato sauce, flours, nuts, and dried fruit. I don't know what we'd do without the kitchenette in the basement as a pantry (our house was once a duplex) and the full-size chest freezer. I also can't imagine what guests think when they see our stash.

The challenge is rotating stock and not forgetting what we have. I have an abhorrence of food waste that borders on irrational. All meal planning begins with "what's most likely to go bad." Every bone gets boiled down into stock. I've even scavenged leftover ham bones and turkey carcasses from (before-time) work potlucks. They'll just go to waste otherwise. I won't buy potato chips, not because I'll crave and overeat them, but because I'll feel compelled to overeat them before they go stale.

Perhaps I behave this way because my parents were raised in dire poverty during the depression. My mother's told me of resorting to eating lard gravy with biscuits. My father was the oldest of eight, and his mother cooked up dinner from every squirrel he could shoot (and he was a damn fine shot**)

So I (literally) dusted off the box of pineapple the other day, looked at the now-in-the-past sell-by date, and am now on a quest to eat as much pineapple as quickly as is humanly possible. I pulled out the cookbooks and discovered nothing involving pineapple except upside-down cake and gelatin. Cake it shall be.

I told my husband I needed to find a recipe involving pineapple, kippers, beets, and green beans. (Yum?)

You would think that at this middle-aged, well-established phase of my life that I could let a leftover ham bone or a half-bag of potato chips go without guilt, but I can't. Habits of thrift die hard. 

You would think by now I would have faith that there will be enough.

We'll work our way through the backlog of kippers and beans and beets and yes, pineapple. I will make myself believe that the stores will not run out of fruits and veggies. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go make a second cup of tea from the once-used tea bag.


*Biblical reference if you're not familiar with it. I grew up very, very Catholic, so there might be a few of those on this blog.

**My father famously told my husband on first meeting, "I shot 15 squirrels with 16 rounds from a .22 rifle." We think there was some subtext there as to how he wanted his daughter to be treated.


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