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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Sleuthing the Shelves

By Lyn Burnstine of The Lynamber Times

In one of my favorite TV shows, House, the concept is to diagnose – in less than an hour – a mysterious, often occult disease. Usually, some of the physicians go to check out the patient’s house, including the refrigerator, for clues. I wonder what interpretation they would give to the contents of my refrigerator this week.

The most obvious clues would be the gluten free foods in abundance in all three food storage spaces: the freezer, refrigerator and pantry. They would have to be pretty dense not to deduce Celiac Disease, or, at the least, wheat allergy, from the gluten free waffles and pancakes in the freezer nestled in beside containers of alternate flours: rice, brown rice, soybean, fava bean, teff, corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, cornmeal and xanthan gum.

There are also corn tortillas and gluten-free salad dressings, catsup and soy sauce. Often, though not this week, there might be loaves of GF bread, little bite-size flourless chocolate cakelets, and any flavor of ice cream except cookie dough blends. The dry yeast in the fridge, along with the array of flours, might reveal that I bake my own bread sometimes.

The rarity of meat, except for an occasional package of GF chicken sausage or ground turkey for meatballs, would signal that I eat mostly vegetarian, and the cheeses, yogurt and eggs define just how far I go – or don’t go – in that direction.

The probiotic capsules, soy milk and tofu spell out lactose intolerance, although the quart of half-and-half, the Ensure or Boost and the rich, cream-top Brown Cow yogurt as well as the ice cream and chocolate sauces are keys to my futile attempt to gain weight before my doctor yells at me again. (Well, let’s be honest: the chocolate and the half-and-half for my coffee would be there even if I weren’t underweight – a girl can only sacrifice so much!)

And speaking of sauces, the decadence of having three jars of ice cream sauces – apple cider caramel, chocolate fudge and dark chocolate expresso amidst what is obviously a careful frugality of food choices, would be hard to figure out, unless one knew that It’s Arthur’s Fault is a family business run by my daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters.

They might also glean that I’m a bit of a health freak and a “made-from-scratch” cook since the fruit and vegetable bins are bulging with fresh produce and the only unhealthy item is a bottle of maraschino cherries.

There are a few cans of beans, beets, salmon and tuna in the pantry, but no prepared foods except GF crackers and rice cakes. They wouldn’t know that before Coumadin entered my life seven years ago, along with a pacemaker, the bins would have had a higher percentage of salad greens and green vegetables. I refer to those years as “BC” – before Coumadin – when I would normally eat two or three salads and servings of greens, avocados, or cooked green vegetables daily. Now I’m limited to one serving a day, although I do sometimes cheat – Vitamin K, but never gluten.

One non-food item that is an easily-detected clue to a separate health issue are boxes of refrigerated injectable vials. The physicians would know the biologic medicine in them, Enbrel, is used for autoimmune diseases in advanced stages, although they would have no way to know I had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis fifty-three years ago, unless they looked in the gadget drawer at all the thick-handled kitchen tools adapted to my gnarled hands.

The seated walker waiting in the middle of the floor would perhaps announce that I sit to do kitchen chores, thus avoiding the difficulty of standing on painful neuropathic legs and feet.

One of the stranger things to decipher is the presence of D batteries in my refrigerator. Since the thing that they power is hidden away in a suitcase in the pantry, I’d probably have to tell them that when I bought the queen-sized inflatable mattress, I envisioned frequent overnight guests.

After an experience or two of the mattress deflating in the middle of the night for some reason, most of my guests have chosen to sleep on the floor or the couch the next time. But the batteries are ready and waiting!

What’s hiding in your refrigerator? What clues to your lifestyle and health?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


OMG...I have to clean out my fridge!

What a terrific view of that part of you behind closed refrigerator doors. Since I am a vegetarian and my husband is not, maybe I ought to think about declaring a my side/his side should someone ever have a need to find signs of my lifestyle.

They would probably deduce that I am starving myself if they looked in my fridge. It normally contains the fresh veggies for salad making, some fruit, milk and fruit juice. No meat. An empty shelf sometimes contains the box from a restaurant that I bring home.

My freezer would tip them off that I don't cook. It contains Lean Cuisine, frozen waffles and bread.

Lyn - I am not the cook. Betsy is. (My specialty is toast.) But your splendid post motivated me to open the refrigerator and take a look.

Good grief! What a depressing mishmash of clutter and contradiction.

I have closed the door, and now I am actually looking forward to going out into the freezing wind (which is blowing snow from last weekend's storm all over the place) and joining the crush of Christmas shoppers at the North Shore Mall. - Sandy

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