There’s this odd thing I do, and I tend to do it at night when no one is watching. I’ve been hearing it’s annoying, but I never hear that directly from the person I am “saving.” I will creep into a friend’s kitchen unannounced, but not creepy Charlie Manson style, mind you—my handiwork is bequeathed to people I actually know.
I’ll do something innocent like ask for a glass of water and then I am in! Silently, I sneak a quick peek into their cabinets. I find what I am looking for and gaze lovingly. I cannot help myself. To me, the sight of their canned foods is glorious!
I ask my friend if she’d like me to whip up a snack or something, and of course it’s an enthusiastic yes! People are lazy and I am a good cook. People would rather reheat, drive thru or take out, and isn’t everyone just dying for some grub like mom used to make?
I have only a short time to get the really important work done before the homeowner wanders in.
I unload my offensive kitchen cabinet, give it an internal spritz and quickly group the cans by product. Beans, vegetables, tomato products, soups and meats have my full attention. The occasional straggler, like a lone can of water chestnuts or Greek vine leaves stuffed with rice, are given a special place to the right of the line of cans when replaced. Cans are mostly uniform in size so once I group them with their intended family, it’s a quick grab and lift to their new home.
It’s a wonder that most people can get themselves up and dressed in the morning, taking canned goods for granted the way they do. As far as I’m concerned, these tantalizing tins make the world go around. Canned appeal is universal and shows up in unusual forms. Sweden has a cheeseburger in a can –a whole canned cheeseburger, for six bucks. Frankly I’d still rather go fresh with six of them off the McDonald’s One Dollar Menu. The good people of Scandinavia market Can ‘o Reindeer Pate.
Every connoisseur of the canned good knows that a Lazy Susan is an organizational must. The Lazy Susan is a shelving unit within the cabinet that rotates on its axis. One spin of the Lazy Susan and you can find any canned good you want, but it must be supremely organized – and that’s where I come in to aid my unsuspecting friends. I’m also so talented at this; I’m out of there in five flat.
I wish you all had the luxury of looking in my pantry. It is all there in living can color, cans arranged by month and year. Every three months I rotate them all out and restock. I lust for pull-out shelves someday. That would be more delightful to me than walking through Crystal Gayle’s long and luxurious locks barefoot.
I really dig reading the labels. That kind of nerdiness runs in my family. Put a random can of corn on the Fournier table and all of us will individually pick it up to discover that the Del Monte Sweet Cream Corn Style was canned in San Francisco. Allen’s Original Baked beans originated in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Astonishing! We just need to touch it, feel it and read it out loud for ourselves.
When someone goes on vacation and asks what they can bring me back, I am always tempted to ask for a can. Here’s hoping one day I get to dig out the soppy remnants of a Swedish cheeseburger.