Last night I decided to clear out my kitchen cupboard. This meant poking around at the very back, behind the tins of baked beans, jars of jam and packets of cup-a-soup. And here I discovered a netherworld of previous purchases, a comestible archive, a stack of stuff well past its best-before-date. And I thought, I should chuck this lot out. But I didn't, apart from a couple of squeezy bottles it would have been inadvisable to keep. I'm sure that most of it's perfectly edible, whatever the official deadline says. Here's a list of the worst offenders...
The oldest foodstuff in my freezer Young's Admiral's Pie (340g) [July 2007] - Mmm, fishy slush under a layer of mashed potato, lightly frozen, beneath a coating of ice crystals. Purchased in readiness for that day when I'd get home hungry, find the fridge bare and want a meal I could microwave in ten minutes. That day has never arrived. There's also a rather chemical-looking lemon sponge pudding, whose sell-by-date is "18 May", but that could be any 21st century year.
The oldest foodstuffs in my fridge Bernard Massard - Brut [2000 vintage] - Given to me by my letting agent as a housewarming gift the day I moved into my flat. I'm still waiting for an excuse to open it, and/or company to share it with. Limited edition 'Believe' Mars bar [18 02 07] - Issued in that heady summer of 2006 when England were absolutely definitely going to walk away with the World Cup, honest. I keep it as a totemic keepsake of misplaced optimism. Creme Eggs × 2 [July 2010] - Because new season Creme Eggs are still five weeks away, and a man's got to survive until Christmas somehow.
The ten oldest foodstuffs in my kitchen cupboard Microwaveable Apple and Cinnamon Sponge Pudding (320g) [Nov 2002] - From the days when 'microwaveable' was a) still novel b) a selling point. Typhoo 'Millennium Blend' [Feb 2003] - A pack of 20 silver-wrapped teabags, issued to ride the millennial bandwagon, with a disappointingly ordinary taste so I still have four left. Fray Bentos Steak and Mushroom Pie (425g) [May 2003] - I can't face slicing the big tin open, because the contents never quite look edible, even after cooking. Mixed herbs (58g) [June 2003] - Bought for me by a friend in the misguided belief that I might use it to 'season' my food. They'll learn (but only if they ever come to dinner again). Cadbury's Original Drinking Chocolate (250g) [Oct 2003] - Mmm, milky chocciness. Now that I've remembered this exists, I give it two weeks before I've gulped down the lot. Sliced carrots in water (no added sugar) (180g) [Jan 2005] - If nothing else, old tins show just how far graphic design's moved on in the last decade. Jif Lemon [Sep 05] [Oct 00] - OK, I've chucked the old lemon away, on the basis it must be nasty, cloudy and acidic inside that yellow plastic by now. But the newer one survives until next Pancake Day. Nescafé Gold Blend (50g) [June 2006] - I keep this tiny jar for when builders/workmen/visitors come round and ask for a coffee, because it would be socially gauche not to have any. Still 90% full. Heinz Tomato Ketchup (855g) [July 2006] - Don't worry, this one's empty, but I've kept it as a reminded of the glory days when ketchup still used to come in proper bottles and not cheapskate thin squeezy bottles. Evian Natural Mineral Water (2l) [31 03 2007] - I never drink the stuff, it's a complete waste of money. But I've got this bottle stashed away for the day my taps run dry. Or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner.
Lessons learned 1) I must remember to stop buying new food when I already have perfectly serviceable old food. 2) Tinned food's not big and it's not clever, but one day you'll be damned glad you've got some. 3) If you're an old school blogger looking for an idea to write about, go look in your kitchen cupboards.