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Thursday, April 21, 2011

When Water Chestnuts are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will Have Water Chestnuts

The pantry at my parents’ house has reached Fun House proportions.

Step inside, won’t you? Would you like a pickle? No? Are you sure? Because I think I can give you up to six quarts before anyone would notice.

No?

I like to wander in, every now and then, just to see what we’re stocking up on these days. It’s not a large pantry, but it has its charms. Food, wooden matches, boxes of cassette tapes.

They stock up, my parents do, partially for winter, and partially for any unforeseen circumstances.

Should The End come, there will salsa and chips at my parents’, followed by a brief memorial and a dance.

Look over there. You see that? Appears a deal’s been made in the area of canned water chestnuts.

“Dad,” I say, barely able to keep the smile off my face, let alone out of my words. “You plan on doing a lot of stir-frying?”

My father is not dumb, but he does enjoy a good game of Let’s See How Far We Can Take This.

“You know what the currency will be, don’t you?”

“What, when The End comes?”

My dad nods.

“Water chestnuts?”

Dad smiles.

“Dad, have you been listening to the Mayans again?”

Dad taps the side of his nose and winks but remains silent.

“And you’re thinking that sliced water chestnuts are where the power will lie?”

“And the whole water chestnut!” he interjects. “Let’s not downplay the value of the whole and unsliced water chestnut!”

Water chestnuts aside, the pantry also seems to hold a lot of canned tomatoes, bar soap, marinated artichoke hearts (“oh, your mother loves those, you know”) and, inexplicably, wooden toothpicks.

“Wooden toothpicks,” I muse. I let the phrase hang for a bit, see if it will gain any momentum.

“What,” Dad says. “Because it’s the end of the world we’re not going to have cocktail parties? Build tiny rafts? Spear each other in mock duals?”

He has a point.

No use in letting the end of the world ruin a good time.

44 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Snap. When my mother died and we cleared out the pantry there were many things lurking in dark corners that predated use by dates. And others that neither she nor my father had ever or would ever use. But they were prepared. For what? Now that is a whole new question.

NYEMT said...

Partygeddon! Alright! Sounds like my grandmother. She kept the weirdest stuff. I think she spent the last ten years or so laughing at the thought of my mom and aunts and uncles trying to figure out what the hell to do with all the stuff when she was gone. And believe me - it WAS funny to watch. :)

haphazardlife said...

I love your dad. Can I borrow him?

- Jazz

Joshua said...

I love your dad. And this conversation.

Is he adopting?

Symdaddy said...

I think I like you dad but he's got it wrong with the water chestnuts. I happen to know (from a reliable source [my nan] ) that pickled onions and sliced beetroot is what'll keep the world turning ... after we run out of brazil nuts, that is.

Camille said...

I read recently that during an apocalypse, two of the most negotiable items will be tampons and cigarettes. But I'm on my way to Costco now and will probley pick up a case of water chestnuts too for good measure. Thanks for the heads-up Pearl.

Yandie, Goddess of Pickles. said...

No Vienna sausages?

Simply Suthern said...

You better be careful. You got people trying wiggle in there between you and your dad. You are now going to have to share your toothpick stash.

I am prolly going to buy one of those ceramic knives so I can slice my water chestnuts thinner.

laughingmom said...

Party food for the "end" celebration - you've got the water chestnuts and toothpicks -all you need is some bacon (waterchestnuts wrapped in bacon and baked - yummy!!) It's my dad's favorite!

Almost Precious said...

What ? No canned Mandarin oranges? Everyone knows that a well stocked panty has to have a couple of cans of Mandarin Oranges in it ... and tins of deviled ham. Do they still MAKE canned deviled ham?

Pat said...

Toothpicks stuck in water chestnuts--that's what you oughta have for hors d'ouevres at the end of the world party. You and your dad should start up a stand-up comedy routine.

Pat said...

I can see where you're coming from:)

Oilfield Trash said...

Your dad cracks me up.

Suitcase said...

How about a huge can of nacho cheese. My parents had that for about 4 years until we threw it away along with several jars of expired grape jelly and Nutrigrain bars. We had a contest to see which of us could find the thing with the oldest expiration date. We found something that expired 8 years earlier.

jenny_o said...

So funny!

@ Almost Precious - yes they do still make canned deviled ham, but the price is scary. We used this a lot for sandwiches about 30 years ago and in a moment of nostalgia recently I checked it out. Apparently it's only for rich people now. Rich people who eat sandwiches.

Pearl said...

The Elephant’s Child, preparing for life’s eventualities is part of the fun. What we should all do is also leave behind notes…

NYEMT, this gives me so many ideas. :-)

Jazz, my dad is a delightful person and available for parties.

Joshua, my dad has a strict everyone’s-invited policy. :-)

Sym, how could we have forgotten the pickled onion?! I’m willing to bet there’s a jar or two in there. And sliced beetroot? My friend, appears we are operating under the same governing body…

Camille, some things, ya just can’t go without. :-)

Yandie, I don’t want to live in a world without Vienna sausages. Those were considered QUITE the treat when I was small.

Simply, :-) Now I have to worry about how to hang on to my vast pantry inheritance…

Laughingmom, absolutely! Part of me REALLY wants to be there for the party at the end of the world, but part of me is worried about how we will get the thanks-I-had-a-lovely-time cards out the next day…

Almost Precious, first I was going to tease you about the well-stocked panty comment, but then I thought, nah. :-) As for Mandarin oranges, I practically LIVED on those things when I was pregnant with the boy. I’m amazed he’s normal, considering all I ate was Zantigo’s (fastfood Mexican), canned Mandarin oranges, and “jo-jo” potatoes covered with Tabasco. Oh, and they absolutely do still make deviled ham, as I tend to eat at least one can a month. :-)

Pat, he’s a drummer. We could easily have him playing the snare (rim-shots, mostly) while I riff on what I think of things…

Pat, I was afraid that would happen!

Leenie said...

You've got it all wrong with the toothpicks. They are portable bridge material. A ton of toothpicks, bottle of Elmer's glue and the patience of Job and voila! A bridge across the raging river to safety. (Not to mention the capability of airplane building material.)

Water Chestnuts--not so much.

Pearl said...

OT, he cracks a lot of people up!

Suitcase, that would be fun! Expired Goods Pantry Bingo!

Jenny-o, it is expensive, but it won’t stop me when I’ve got a hankerin’!!

Pearl said...

Leenie, but I can still stab people with them, right?

Grant said...

You mock now, but we'll see who's laughing when the revolution comes and you're all out of cassettes to eat.

Charlene said...

My mother lived through the depression. She always had enough food home canned, flour in bags in the fridge along with salt, sugar, powdered milk, and such.

I think people who grew up poor and hungry have a habit of always having enough to feed themselves and their families.

Douglas said...

I'll take those 6 quarts of pickles.... if they are sour dill.

I am not so sure about stocking up on water chestnuts. Now, the 200 cans of Dinty Moore's Beef Stew and the 300 cans of Cream of Chicken soup.... that's another story.

who said...

Exactly, and that is why the fallout shelters in Wyoming and Colorado have pommel horses and whiskey, but no condoms.

Roses said...

8 years expired...pah. When my mum died she had 3 tins of smoked oysters from the 80s. My brother ate those. I come from a family that cuts the green, fuzzy bits of cheese and laughs in the face of expiry dates.

Are you sure we're not related?

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I think it's abundantly clear which parent you take after. :) My end of the world stash? Thanks for asking. Lots of good cheese, a wine cellar and a room filled with chocolate. I wouldn't even mind exploding if I had that to look forward to first.

Well, I wouldn't mind as much.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Well said: a very Buddhist sentiment.

Eva Gallant said...

Oh my, the apple did not fall far from the tree! But thank goodness I read this! There's not a single can of water chestnuts in my pantry! Mr. Eva is leaving to go to the store now!

lisleman said...

you had me with just the title - the post was hard to read while still laughing from the title.
a winner.

Crystal Pistol said...

Your father is delightful!

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? (I detest that adage. Makes me shiver with humility. I HATE THAT. But only truly humble people can say phrases like the afore mentioned without at least hint of irony.)

I love pickles. What's not to love? 6 quarts seems extreme though.

I want to have a campout in your parent's pantry. I doubt they'd notice.

The Jules said...

This (excellent post) rings a bell?

I also have a collapse-of-civilisation-as-we-know-it-prior-to-new-world-order-when-I-will-finally-be-rightfully-acknowledged-as-ultimate-ruler-of-all secret stash. Or at least did, because I just ate the last of the tinned prunes, and we all know a stash without tinned prunes is just an inconveniently located larder.

light208 said...

Your family sound fabulous. I recently did some digging in my grandparents freezer - for reasons unknown and came across some sugar heart sweets that had been made about 10 years ago. Why they feel the need to keep these is a mystery I can't decipher.

Cake Betch said...

This is my parent's pantry. Exactly. When I moved out of their place and into my own my mother got a plastic grocery bag (which she saved of course, in the pantry) and told me to "Go Shopping" in her pantry. It's ridiculous.
Water chestnuts are damn tasty though...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I knew a woman who had stockpiled bobby pins. They'd make a great pair.

Glen said...

I know whose party I'm going to when the Apocalypse comes - I'll bring some cans of Tuna

mrwriteon said...

I love water chestnuts. I understand your dad's motivation.

who said...

Ring a bell? do you mean move a file cabinet?

Daisy said...

I went through my "stock" a while ago and found that some canned foods explode after the expiry date! I do have a large jar of home canned sour pickles tho which I can bring to the Apocoparty.

Lazarus said...

Pearl, you strike me as a fan of the old "Twilight Zone," as am I. There was an episode where a guy stocked his nuclear bunker with all sorts of canned foods to last him for many years and then when the annihilation came, he realized that he forgot to pack a can opener. You had to be there, I guess....

tweedles said...

wellll,, what about doggy biscuits?
ps (thank you for visiting me)
love
tweedles

Amanda said...

Your dad sounds awesome!

Cloudia said...

mmmmm....
toilet paper?



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Sarah Has Moxie said...

Pearl, you bring the sunshine to every day! I'll be there, at the cocktail party, with little wienies in hand. Ahem. :)

Happy Easter my dear!
Sarah

Jinksy said...

Can't help thinking of the old song 'Underneath the spreading chestnut tree', but guess tins of water chestnuts don't grow on trees. Sadly. :)

Irish Gumbo said...

Yeah, man, but canned clams will be the gold standard, baby!

And I shall be King...:)