Stock tak­ing clearout of a kitchen press at the Manor makes for a most novel diet

Bray People - - OPINION - With David Med­calf med­der­s­me­

‘WHY are there 37 tins of sar­dines in the cup­board, dar­ling?’ No one is more af­fec­tion­ate in speak­ing to her spouse than sweet Hermione, no one freer with her mar­i­tal en­dear­ments. Nev­er­the­less, the ‘dar­ling’ can only be in­ter­preted as flash­ing am­ber, if not a red. The pained tone in which the word is ut­tered comes across as less ‘dar­ling’ and more ‘ding­bat’.

‘ They are Por­tuguese sar­dines, sugar plum.’ My adored spouse is a big Por­tu­gal fan, ever since a happy hol­i­day spent in Faro, but she is not in the mood to be di­verted by thoughts of The Al­garve, not this time.

‘I’m not much both­ered if they are Por­tuguese sar­dines or Poly­ne­sian sar­dines or Puerto Ri­can sar­dines, tid­dleums, just cu­ri­ous as to why there are 37 tins.’

‘Look care­fully, cher­rikins, and you will no­tice that some of them are pa­prika flavoured sar­dines. It’s a new recipe. You like pa­prika.’

I re­sume the crossword – 12 across: Her road leads to stock­piler (7). Must be an ana­gram. Her road. Hoarder. Got it! Hoarder. As I fill in the an­swer and main­tain cover be­hind the news­pa­per, the still of the evening is dis­turbed by a se­ries of thumps.

‘And there’s a stack of cans of tuna here at the back too. So where’s the bread?’ No dar­ling. No tid­dleums. No honey-hunk or lover-lips ei­ther. This is get­ting se­ri­ous.

‘Bread, fluffy­dums?’

‘Yes, bread. You have the fishes. Now all you re­quire is the loaves and you can do a full re-en­act­ment of Christ’s feed­ing of the five thou­sand.’ Feed­ing of the five thou­sand. Very good, very funny. 14 down: pub prof­its at the right price (8). Pub could be bar, yes. Got it, bar-gains. Bar­gains!

Fur­ther thump­ing. I put down the pa­per and rise to in­ves­ti­gate. My adored wife is on her knees, pre­sent­ing her shapely back­side to the world, with her head stuck in a kitchen cup­board. The ground shakes as a se­ries of items is tossed out from the cup­board – mis­cel­la­neous tins and pack­ets and bot­tles. A large jar of prunes in evilly dark brown syrup rolls un­steadily across the floor and comes to rest at my slip­pered feet. Hermione’s head emerges and she sits up, sur­rounded by a jum­bled lit­ter of the goods she has excavated like a ter­rier scrab­bling at a rab­bit hole.

‘Ha! There you are.’ Still no cud­dletips or snug­gle­ups. ‘What is the best-be­fore on those prunes?’ I pick up the jar and scour at the lid to find the date in blurred type, still just about leg­i­ble.

‘It looks like June of 2009. But that’s only a rec­om­men­da­tion, pret­tikins. Prunes are made to keep. I’ll have them for break­fast to­mor­row.’

‘Hmm. So that jar of sickly sweet fruit has been tak­ing up valu­able stor­age space in our cup­board for the past eight years, maybe more. It’s a won­der they have not ex­ploded.’

She sighs a dra­matic sigh and tosses me what was once a brightly coloured can, though the lurid reds and yel­lows have been muted some­what by the pass­ing of the years. I squint at the la­bel and dis­cern the words ‘Pa­tel’s Spicy Lentils’. Sounds lovely.

‘If I am not mis­taken,’ and Hermione is very sel­dom mis­taken, let’s face it, ‘ the last time I saw that fine ex­am­ple of Ori­en­tal cui­sine was when we moved into this house. It came from your bach­e­lor pad.’ She pauses to make a show of reck­on­ing the time that must have elapsed be­tween the pur­chase of the lentils long ago and their ex­huma­tion to­day .

‘When we moved into this house, our Eldrick was only just walk­ing. He will be 18 in a few weeks’ time. Pa­tel and his lentils should be in a mu­seum, not a kitchen.’

I have al­ways been drawn to the spe­cial of­fer cor­ners of the su­per­mar­kets. And the elec­tion of Donald Trump has strength­ened my con­vic­tion that it is a good idea to lay down a store of food against the day when the world’s eco­nomic sys­tem breaks down.

Now I find that my bluff has been called. I shall in­deed be hav­ing prunes for break­fast to­mor­row morn­ing and ev­ery morn­ing un­til the big jar is empty. I am also look­ing for­ward to savour­ing 2007 vin­tage Spam in my packed lunches, while the lentils will be opened for a din­ner time treat.

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