Proud Moments in Adulthood: Is This Still Edible?
“Do Soy Dogs go bad?” asks Becky as she thrusts the fake meat in my face. “Yes. Yes they do,” I say pointing to the white spots growing on her dogs. Most of our conversations in the kitchen involve expiration dates. After all, if your cheese takes on a greenish hue, who’s to say that’s a bad thing? Isn’t cheese supposed to be moldy?
Maybe it’s our microwave mentality, but we expect our food to wait for us. Who does spinach think it is, demanding to be eaten within the week? Plus we both have eaten outside the expiration date. When do you draw the line?
According to my mother, companies air on the cautious side with their expiration dates. They don’t want to be sued. So I perform basic smell and taste tests before consuming expired food. If no one claims the hummus in my office refrigerator, I’m going to take it home and eat it, never mind that it expired last week. I live dangerously.
Turns out I do live dangerously–I’ve had food poisoning twice in the last six months, which is an unusually high rate (according to an informal poll of myself). Now I know that salmon, even if cooked, should be eaten promptly. But I don’t want to be rushed and bossed around by salmon or any other fish, so I’m sticking to canned tuna (botulism only happens in movies).
I wish I could argue that Becky and I eat expired food because we’re dedicated conservationists, and we don’t believe in wasting food. But we’re just really lazy, and most of the time we eat out or microwave. When we remember that we bought groceries, it’s too late and our food has died, which reinforces the behavior that led to the food going bad in the first place.
It’s an endless cycle, but it’s probably my closest connection to nature. Weather isn’t really a factor in Southern California, and I sit in a florescent office all day, so my closest encounter with the wild is my refrigerator. I open the door with a sense of dread, armed with gloves and prepared for battle. Sometimes I feel like a scientist, monitoring specimens of cottage cheese and tofu. Tofu actually turns gray and creates a pinkish, viscous fluid as it goes bad. Cottage cheese turns the expected green. It’s like our refrigerator has its own table of grocery elements, and we watch them vaporize or solidify.
Also, determining if something’s still edible is the only time I need to use the scientific method. All those years in school, when I was forced to come up with science experiments, why didn’t I ever attempt to come up with a way to conclusively answer this question? Instead I busied myself answering questions like, “Which fabrics are most flammable?” or “Which insulation acts as the best form of sound proofing?” These are two questions I have never had to really answer, which is probably for the best because according to the data I gathered, cotton spontaneously ignites at seventy degrees. Can you imagine how weather forecasts would change? “Folks it looks to be a hot one out there today. Better put away those cotton blends!”
Of course these days I don’t need the scientific method because of Google. After frantically trying both my parents and getting answering machines, I googled “how do I tell if eggs have gone bad?” It’s amazing how many things Google knows about me. I’ve asked it questions I would never ask anyone, amd apparently I’m not the only one because when you type “Can midgets…” the suggested searches include, “See in the dark,” and “Warts on…” comes up with “Penile shaft.” Anyway, I quickly found a video of a fresh egg test. Rotten eggs produce a gas which causes them to float in water. So I took my eggs and floated (felt like a witch trial). Some of them were rotten, but the rest I used to make a lovely batch of chocolate chip cookies which I then fed to my nearest and dearest friends. Good thing for Google.
If you ever dine at our house, which is a slight possibility, do not be alarmed. We will have mostly purchased food specifically for the occasion (or made pasta which doesn’t go bad), so it will be fresh. However, I’ve written this post as a disclaimer and reminder. Ask me “Is this still edible?” and enjoy watching me try to answer.