A passion for food + fashion

The Refrigerator Personality Test

In Food on April 8, 2010 at 10:18 am

“Show me what you store, and I’ll tell you what you are,” wrote Los Angeles Times Food Editor Russ Parsons in a column last year entitled “The Refrigerator Personality Test.” I’ve known Russ for over a decade, and worked with him for at least half that long, but after reading that column learned a little more about this superb human being. Like that Russ is sentimental and hangs onto hot sauce for 20 years. That he is perhaps also fickle in love, which explains the fleeting flirtation with a tube of cast-aside yuzu-koshu pepper paste. I’ve never forgotten the story, and was reminded of it again this morning when I was looking for something as simple as a jar of Dijon mustard (we’re out) and instead found a random of assortment of condiments that included four spicy mustards of varying heat, jars of capers, lemon curd, fig paste, pomegranate syrup, two jars of Nuttzo (god forbid we run out, but seriously, it’s great in a smoothie), almond butter, pistachio and walnut oils, Sriracha, tubes of anchovy and tomato paste and several bottles of apéritifs and rosé in the refrigerator door alone. They are joined by less esoteric tubs of mayonnaise, ketchup, maple syrup, soy sauce, Diet Dr. Pepper and butter.

My refrigerator shelves reinforce that I am far less imaginative than Russ, whose fridge boasts caramelized onions, olives he’s cured, undeveloped rolls of film, Spanish pickled anchovies and Cougar Gold canned cheese. In my own icebox, I find enough dairy to start, well, a dairy: milk, buttermilk, cream, eggs, plain yogurt (sheep and cow), mascarpone, and more cheese than I could ever eat (which is a lie; I will eat it all: parm, goat, feta, blue, pecorino, Swiss, Vermont cheddar, fresh ricotta, cream cheese, shredded pepper Jack; string cheese for Tiny G). There’s more rosé, Madeira, several bottles of Japanese and Belgian beer, a bottle of Henriot, half finished jar of chocolate sauce, a jar of my aunt Margaret’s homemade peach preserves, two kinds of hummus, puréed squash and ground chicken for Tiny G’s lunch, his sippy cup of milk unfinished from this morning, bacon, a ribeye (for Mr Foodinista’s dinner while I’m at book club tonight), radishes, green onions, cured green olives, a bag of flax seeds, half a red pepper, broccoli, asparagus, basil (most other herbs come from the garden but we need to replant basil, which got attacked), cold cuts of roast beef, a couple bottles of mineral water, huge jar of Bubbies bread and butter chips, blood orange juice, tortillas, strawberries, cantaloupe and a bowl leftover cherry tomato and bocconcini with basil salad from last night’s dinner.

Now that I write that all out, it sounds like a LOT. I guess it is a lot. But in reality the depth of our fridge is pretty shallow, which I love. Items are less likely to get lost and go to waste. (Our freezer drawers are another story for another post.) And after cataloging the contents above, I think I’m going to try to cook my way through our condiments. And cheese, of course. Any ideas? And while we’re at it, what’s in your fridge????

  1. My Frigidaire Rorschach:

    Lingonberry jam
    bratwurst, turkey hot dogs and buns
    Tazo chai latte concentrate (4 boxes)
    flour tortillas
    2% milk (two half-gallon cartons)
    unsalted butter
    Trader Joe whole wheat honey bread & sourdough English muffins
    a bottle of Sterling cabernet, a can of Boddington’s, assorted bottles of beer
    half a bag of lightly salted cashews, 1 bag unsalted walnut halves
    nectarines, apples, baby carrots, Romaine lettuce
    Sriracha hot chili sauce, brown mustard, pickle relish, Trader Joe salsa, Fresh and Easy veggie pasta sauce

  2. First i love your fridge! We have a loaner fridge as we did not want the small german style fridge and didn’t want to pay for one if we’re only going to be here temporarily

    mustards (yellow, dijon, honey, whole grain)
    Milk, unsalted butter, cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, plain yogurt, soy milk, chocolate soy milk
    hot dogs and lunch meat
    carrots, celery, ginger
    apples, grapes
    2 jars of yeast
    chocolate yogurt
    brown rice
    organic-unbleached all-purpose flour
    soy sauce
    jams and jellies
    chili garlic sauce
    hoisin sauce

  3. Since I’m sitting at my desk and not basking in the glow of the open Amana, this won’t be complete, but here it is (from bottom to top):

    Bottom crisper:
    organic string cheese single serve (6)
    one wedge of parmesan the size of a Kleenex box (a gift ferried back in the bride’s luggage from the last Milan runway shows)
    one package habanero cheddar
    three cans of Diet Coke
    one can of Diet Canada Dry Gingerale

    In the two drawers above that:
    blister pack of organic cherry tomatoes
    Ziploc sandwich bag of sliced mushrooms
    English hothouse cucumbers (two-pack)
    six lemons from the neighbor’s lemon tree
    2 limes so old they look like walnuts
    1 package “living lettuce”

    Next shelf up:
    1 bag of three berry granola from Trader Joe’s
    2 containers of Greek-style yogurt
    3/4 of a quart of gazpacho from Joan’s on Third
    Plastic container with approximately six curried chickpeas (also from Joan’s)

    Top shelf:
    Six single-serving Jell-O brand whipped mousse cups
    1 bottle of marcon Almond stuffed martini olives
    Refrigerator thermometer

    The real prize is the DOOR:
    1 bottle of Veuve Cliquot yellow label (open with Champagne bottle stopper)
    1 bottle of “Pirate Season Special Stock” home-infused horseradish vodka
    1 half-empty bottle of Bloody Mary mix of unknown provenance
    1 bottle of home-made simple syrup
    2 bottles of Dasherwood Pinot Noir
    1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc of unknown provenance
    2 additional bottles of Champagne, also of unknown provenance
    1 tub Brummel & Brown butter-like spread
    1 squeeze bottle of light mayo
    1 bottle of Amana Farms Dijon-style mustard
    1 bottle of Tabasco
    1 bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

    Of course this a far cry from the end-of-pirate-season fridge after a month of foraging. It usually contains:

    1 bottle of “Pirate Season Special Stock” home-infused horseradish vodka
    a refrigerator thermometer

  4. Since I live in NYC my fridge is small by you California kids standards, a mere 11 cubic feet, but I was actually pretty shocked how much I’ve got in here, including:
    Ronnybrooke organic skim milk
    1 quart homemade veg stock
    1 quart homeade chicken/veg/chickpea soup
    container of assorted Italian olives
    Container of assorted dried mushrooms
    fresh cremini mushrooms
    Kerala coffee (3 years later still getting it shipped from my fav destination in India)
    Container of the dogs ground chicken/vegi food
    hunk of Parmesano Regiano
    gruyere cheese
    Fage 0% greek yogert
    bag of organic raw almonds
    Peppetti Foods liquid egg whites
    puff pastry dough
    Granny Smith Apples & Kiwis, lemons
    Assorted Veg: carrots, onions, parsnips, kale, celery, shallots, cauliflower, peas, brussel sprouts, fingerling potatoes, zucchini
    Santa Barbara mango & peach salsa
    Maya Kaimal cocconut curry sauce and tikka masala sauce
    Ronnybrooke organic sweet cream butter
    DeNigris red wine vinager
    Los Olivos balsamic vinager
    Roland Fish sauce
    Roland Mango Chutney
    Roland yellow curry paste
    Heffy’s Original Barbeque sauce
    Coombs Family Farms Certified Organic Grade A Dark Amber Maple Syrup
    Fresh Direct ground mustard
    Yamasa Less-Salt Soy Sauce
    heinz distilled white vinegar
    Annie’s Naturals Organic worcestershire sauce
    Annie’s Naturals Organic Honey Mustard
    A Taste Of Thai Lite Coconut Milk
    Muir Glen Organic tomato paste
    2 chicken breasts
    1 bottle of “Bitch” chardonnay
    a box of Shu Uemura one-time use cooling eye patches
    bottle of Chanel Particuliere

  5. I just have two questions … How does Adam have his entire fridge contents memorized by shelf? (are you a food savant!?) AND what is Pirate Season Special Stock!?

  6. actually my question should be … WHEN is pirate season?

  7. KC: First questions answered first: By memorizing the contents I don’t need to open my eyes for the midnight forage (you only lick a fridge thermometer once, I always say), and “Pirate Season Special Stock” is an appellation applied to anything grown, infused, harvested, distilled or fermented whilst Pirate Season is in full swing.
    Which brings me to the last one. Pirate Seasons run concurrently with the women’s RTW runway shows in Milan and Paris, and are noted as same. For example, while the Spring/Summer 2010 collections were showing in September of 2010, it was Pirate Season S/S ’10.

  8. Beer, butter, basil
    water, wasabi
    capers, ketchup
    it’s the most full my fridge has ever been.

  9. Hm… my fridge is stocked with… Heinz Sugar Free Ketchup, Dijon Mustard, Xyience, Redline & Spike Energy Drinks, Waters, Pounds of Spinach, 2 Dozen Omega-3 Enriched Eggs, Egg Whites, Rice Bran, Salmon &/or Eel Fillet, Roasted Butternut Squash & Pureed Pumpkin – yummy yummy! ha ha! I need to do a bit of shopping… I eat raw spinach like potato chips, seriously!

  10. 2 cubes of butter
    1 qt non-fat milk
    6 eggs
    2 yogurts
    French’s mustard
    Taco sauce
    Coffee Mate (french vanilla)
    3 jars of homemade jam
    Alfredo sauce
    2 week old stalk of celery
    Sweetened lime juice
    1/2 lb of See’s Candy (soft centers)
    2 Pillsbury Grand Cinnamon Rolls (yay! i forgot i bought these)
    Flour tortillas
    Cheddar cheese

    Let’s just say I eat out…a lot.

  11. Love the photo!
    When I wrote mine, I made it sound as though we were monastic; we are not. Like you, I have an incredible number of esoteric condiments on the door (fig paste, Char Sui sauce, Patak’s mild curry paste, black olive puree, Siracha [2 bottles] mustand [5 kinds], dessert wine, jalapeno jelly, tahini), but the fridge, alas, since the kids are gone — and even when you have one kid, you have tons of kids in the house, and they all eat, every 90 minutes — less food on the shelves. I have thrown out more food in the past three months, simply because I am used to buying for many mouths, mouths that are not here and thus, the food rots. The upside is that I have gotten quite fancy about things, as it’s easy to justify that $22/pound fish, and two nice bottles of wine, and perhaps a bit of pate and really, look at those blackberries, when it’s for two.

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