leah mcfall

You wouldn’t know it from my fridge but I’m alert to what its con­tents im­ply about me. You are what you eat – and what I eat ap­pears to in­clude corned beef.

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS -

Hey! Do you want to know how well-bred you are? Then open your fridge. I just took The Tele­graph’s How posh is your fridge? test which, in turn, it had cribbed from so­ci­ety mag­a­zine Tatler. (Pippa Middleton reads this mag­a­zine, and no­body’s fridge is more in­trigu­ing to me than hers. I mean, what do a party plan­ner and a bil­lion­aire hedge fund man­ager eat for break­fast? It won’t be Rice Bub­bles; I think we can all agree on that.)

Thanks to this test, I found out that be­cause I have nei­ther Cham­pagne, nor any­thing with a face in my Smeg (a brace of pheas­ant, per­haps, or a whole trout), I’m from the lowly mid­dle classes. I guess I knew this any­way, be­cause we don’t have a Smeg. We don’t even have a but­ter con­di­tioner.

I was briefly de­pressed af­ter dis­cov­er­ing I was com­mon, so I de­camped to Moore Wil­son’s for coffee and brioche. If you’ve never been, it’s an up­mar­ket gro­cery for peo­ple who’d prob­a­bly score highly on the fridge test. It’s where the One Per Cent buy pro­sciutto by the slice; I go there, some­times, to feel – I don’t know, like I didn’t do a Bach­e­lor of Arts, but maybe a Master of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Moore Wil­son’s is lovely. The staff wear aprons and they have a cute lit­tle rest area for dogs. Their veg­eta­bles are a learn­ing op­por­tu­nity (who knew that fresh turmeric was so knob­bly?).

They have a wet fish counter, and a cheese room sell­ing wheels of brie the size of ac­tual wheels. Get this: they di­vide their dairy into clas­si­fi­ca­tions you didn’t even know ex­isted, like Washed Rind Cheese. What the dang is a washed rind cheese?

They sell wal­nuts in the shell and cran­berry meringues; there are loops of sausages hang­ing from hooks, and crepes so thin that even when they’re folded into quarters they’re thin­ner than the ones you make at home. And the shop­pers know what they’re do­ing.

They mostly wear bobs and capri pants, and of­ten bend at the waist to take an up-close look at the pro­duce. Fresh­ness and au­then­tic­ity mat­ter to them; near­ness to the land. None of them ap­pear to have turned an ac­tual sod in their lives, or killed a sheep, but Moore Wil­son’s is the next best thing.

I took the kids there, once. We gog­gled at all the wob­bly-look­ing patis­serie and the cut flow­ers (they sell leaves for like, eight bucks apiece, and call them fo­liage).

“Come and see the lob­sters!” I said brightly. We gazed at the cray­fish in a bub­bling tank. They waved their feel­ers at us, and swiv­elled their gim­let eyes.

I coulda been some­body, one lob­ster seemed to be telling me, in­stead of a bum, which is what I am; let’s face it.

“They scare me,” an­nounced Maddy; and that was the end of that.

You wouldn’t know it from my fridge, but I’m alert to what its con­tents im­ply about me. You are what you eat (and what I eat ap­pears to in­clude corned beef ) but what’s vastly more in­ter­est­ing is what we as­pire to eat, and what that says about who want to be.

As I drift around Moore Wil­son’s, I imag­ine be­ing the kind of per­son who buys fresh stock by the blis­ter pack, or whips up Is­raeli cous­cous, im­promptu, for friends. In fact, I will do all my shop­ping later at the chilled box which is Count­down Crofton Downs. But that isn’t who I re­ally am; it’s just who I am right now.

That’s food and iden­tity; mean­while food and mem­ory has been over-doc­u­mented, re­ally, thanks to that in­ter­minable French bore, Mar­cel Proust. Yah, his Re­mem­brance of Things Past is a mon­u­ment of 20th cen­tury lit­er­a­ture, but I’m glad I never sat next to him at din­ner. What a wind-bag!

If you haven’t read it (I haven’t, but this makes me ob­jec­tive) it’s a med­i­ta­tion on ex­is­tence nar­rated by some kind of male hys­teric who barely ever gets out of bed. (Or was that Proust him­self? All I know is there were seven vol­umes, which is un­for­giv­able.)

There’s a long pas­sage about child­hood trig­gered by the nar­ra­tor eat­ing a fin­ger of sponge called a madeleine. This is the high point of the novel, which ex­plains why it has never been made into a movie.

Any­one who has stud­ied the art of the novel wishes Proust had eaten an eclair.

Any­how; I was once at Moore Wil­son’s when the fire alarms went off and we had to dump our bas­kets and stand out­side, for­lornly, leav­ing the shop de­serted.

I did won­der what the lob­sters made of our sud­den evac­u­a­tion. Per­haps, like Proust, they med­i­tated on the point­less­ness of ex­is­tence. I coulda had class, the lob­ster might have said.

As could I; but the mo­ment had gone.

“There’s a pas­sage about eat­ing a sponge fin­ger. This is the high point, which ex­plains why it’s never been made into a movie.”

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