by Paul C. McLean
An interview with my mother-in-law’s Martha’s Vineyard fridge. Names have been omitted to protect the publicity-shy.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m a Sub-Zero. Need more? Read the manual.
This is quite a place you have here.
To your left you can see the Elizabeth Islands; to your right, Aquinnah. Exquisite. What do I see? The broom closet, and only when my door is open, which is fleeting because the global-warming obsessives start a carbon footprint guilt-trip the moment I swing open.
You want something to feel guilty about? How about that hunk of Havarti you keep shoving further to the back. That cheese dates to Hurricane Hugo.
I don’t really understand what you’re after here, but go ahead and ask away. Just don’t start with, Is this still good? I am so done with that question.
You sound cold and bitter.
No chevre, Sherlock. You’re married to the shrink, aren’t you? My lucky freakin’ day.
Yeah, I’m cold. I’m, like, a Sub-Zero? Hello?
You’d be bitter too with all these hands probing you. It’s fine when it’s just the woman who lives here half the year. Grandma. She’s usually just looking for some raw kale to nibble or maybe an apple for her peanut butter. She keeps it simple. But around July 4, the horde descends.
Grandma’s children and their children and friends arrive. Wave after wave. This kitchen becomes Grand Central Station, but with a better view, not that it does me any good. One minute the place is as slow and dull as late-night C-SPAN, the next it’s Iron Chef with no mute button.
Must be tough maintaining order.
That’s laughable. Grandma tries. She’s given me all these notes explaining what goes where. Most of them state the obvious, and her adult children make fun of her for it, until late August when they pull out a neglected Ziploc® and wonder if its mystery contents are supposed to be that shade of green.
I do love the teenagers. They don’t time my open door, and they faithfully check expiration dates.
So tell me more about the people.
I only know them in the kitchen, obviously, but they’re great cooks, even the ones with esteem problems. When this one daughter and her husband get going, you gotta duck. Pans and corks are flying, lids clanking, sauces spilling onto counters and the floor. If the beagle’s here, man, that pup’s tongue laps nonstop.
Some don’t stray an ounce from the recipe book. Others make it up on the fly. Everything from squid-ink pasta with clams in saffron cream to some curried, ghee-laden thing I can’t pronounce. And bluefish paté.
Some are vegetarian, some pescatarian, others don’t care how many legs it used to have. To fry bacon is to declare war. Michael Pollan books are scattered about like a post-millennial Gideon’s Bible.
I still don’t understand why you’re so grumpy.
Interview me in June. It’s quiet then. It’s just me and Grandma. But by midsummer I’m frozen in funk. Too many different people all at once. They get these looks when they open my door. Curiosity. Desperation. Revulsion. They go shopping, and put fresh food in the first space available and shove the other stuff to the back.
But then you get half the year off?
Yeah. They close the place up before Thanksgiving and don’t come back until Memorial Day. It’s bliss for a while. They leave my doors open, and I air out. But then the whole place freezes, and I’m cold and empty, and after a while, I actually start missing the people. Especially Grandma and her notes. They’re love letters to a Sub-Zero. But, like, what’s with the raw kale?
Thanks for your time. And you’re right about those views.
Go ahead, rub it in. Don’t let the door hit you.