Tuesday, February 21, 2006

anyone for a food fight?

Getting older was never a thing that occured to me to worry about. Let's be frank here, I never expected it to be an issue.....

If some reason it did ever cross my mind I then I'd think it might be rather fun. From what I've seen one's autumnal years are filled with a whole host of opportunities for mischief. There's endless scope for frightening small children; getting too close and shouting at them v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y as if they were deaf or hard of uderstanding, poking them with bony, liver spotted fingers, or demanding to know if they've seen your glasses when you are quite clearly wearing them. For engaging very busy looking business people in futile conversation on street corners, or chatting to the ticket sales person at the local train station about train times on a Wednesday afternoon three months hence of a service to Belgium out of Waterloo, while a queue of rush- hour suits mewl and tap dance behind me. I might wear a hat. Or better still wear a hat and drive. And I will certainly purchase a pair of fawn trousers to which I will add a damp stain to the crotch for when I travel on the bus. I will purchase a bottle of "eau de urine", I've never actually spotted it in a shop, but I'm sure it exists.

One thing I shall not be doing is eating "convenience" food.

I like to cook, in fact I thoroughly enjoy it. The very act of preparing something that I will find good to eat is relaxing and fulfilling. There's a sense of anticipation, and a glass of wine, maybe a few olives, and some music all add to the occasion...because that's how I feel about it, that dinner, even dinner alone on a weekday evening, if provided with a soupcon of tlc, should be a small but worthwhile occasion.

Conversely sometimes I just can't be arsed.

When the washing needs hanging and the dog's are wet through after a walk in the rain, or the bed needs changing, it's open the bills day, or I've just had a particularly long day at work - then I succumb to the celophane wrapped allure of something from the chiller cabinet. Something bland but microwavable, warm and quick.

Well, that's the theory anyway. The reality is that convience food is anything but convenient. After I've pierced the cellophane cover on my "pasta a la slop", it goes into the microwave for 4 minutes. I'm instructed to stir it at this point, and then return to the microwave it for a further 2 minutes. I'm not instructed to remove the lid so stirring seems to be out of the question, unless I'm supposed to stir it with a toothpick through one of the tiny perforations - so I shake it instead. It's hot, so I yelp and drop it onto the kitchen floor. Still, that seems to have done the trick, the contents have certainly been rearranged. When I turn my meal the right way up only a tiny amount of the liquid has escaped and I can see that some of the caramalised edges are now in the middle - good enough. During it's second spell in the microwave I open my packet of 'ready prepared' caesar salad...in order to prepare it. There's a knack to these bags, a knack that I don't possess. I pinch two folds of bag on either side of the serrated top and pull, gently at first and then with more force - it splits unexpectedly an inch to the left of the seam, all the way down to the bottom spilling my lettuce and a smaller bag of croutons on the floor. I step back looking for the croutons and find them - with my foot, they're actually quite large and very sharp, it's like finding a 3 - pin plug in a stockinged foot. My lettuce is now hairy and I find a colander to wash it. In the meantime the microwave has gone "bing"so my pasta must be fully cremated by now.

There's another, separate sachet of caesar sauce, with an indent where I am supposed to tear. Do they think I'm stupid, naive in the way of the sauce sachet? I approach it with scissors and take off the corner with a satisfying snip, and then as I squeeze it over the lettuce and croutons the indent gives way in any case, covering my thumb in white, sticky sauce as if I had taken a time out to masturbate before opening the wine.

My meal is fused to the inside of the carton. There's a tiny flap on the cellophane lid which, presumably, I am to use to tear it off. The carton is too hot too hold so I place it down on the counter and scald two fingers trying to grasp the tiny lip on lid - eventually, bored with the whole thing I simply slash at it with a knife and pour the contents into a bowl I should have warmed while I was distracted by the enchantment of arielly inclined lettuce.

I did eventually sit down with a glass of wine, hunk of bread, hairy caesar salad and a bowl of rapidly cooling pasta gloop with added fragments of cellophane. I enjoyed the bread.

So my question is: What will happen when I get older. Will I have to prepare every single meal from it's basic ingredients, or eat out every day of my life? Actually scrub that, it's more wide ranging than just food. So, so many packets and packages of household goods seem to be deigned with scant regard to the end user. My fingers are not in the best shape I know, but god forefend an elderly person faced with a "resealable" bag of dog biscuits. "Pull tab tear here" my arse, what with - a pair of pliers? "Reseal by pressing and running fingers along red line", not in a month of Sundays!! I've buggered it completely already trying to open it. Or something as simple as pulling open the ring pull on a can of beans, the instruction should say, "flip up ring and pull, and then bleed into contents".

Somebody, somewhere is obviously charged with the responsibility of designing these packages, and one might have thought their brief would include terms like "ergonomic", "ease of use" and "user friendly". Are they impish, derelict or just simply divorced from the real world? I'm beginning to think that they sit in offices, where they are fed, toileted and put into bed at night - to lead gay, playful and creative lives free of the clutter of any preconceptions about how their products will actually be used. Certainly none of them have grandparents.

If there is a hell then I hope that there is a room full of starving packaging designers and shelves upon shelves of beautiful fresh food - they wouldn't have a f#cking clue.....

19 comments:

Sandra said...

I worry about if I'll ever get dressed when I'm old. I already stay in my pajamas all day if I don't have to go anywhere. It's a slippery slope to becoming the old woman in the housecoat...{{shudder}}

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I once tried to open a bag of Stove-Top stuffing and had the damn thing explode all over the kitchen. I hate those bags.

I think, when I get old, I'll stick with my favorite old stand by...which is peanut butter toast and chocolate milk. That sounds MUCH easier to make than the hairy cesear salad and pasta gloop you were talking about.

But tell me, what wine goes with peanut butter? ;)

Gerbera Daisy said...

Oh Fish~ You had me laughing hysterically describing your microwave meal and your salad. I was not laughing AT you but WITH you as I too have had similiar experiences. I always open stuff with scissors because I don't want to be eating hairy food. And the microwave meals...I never cook them for as long as the package says.
Thanks for the smiles!! :-)

Shephard said...

I was laughing too. Thanks for that! And I'm all for being eccentric with full license when I'm old. I'm going to savour it.

And another great word from you... mewl!
~S

patti_cake said...

You hit the nail right on the head with the microwaving / pre-packaged debacle.
Colin I LOVE the fawn trousers/stain/eau de pee part!
I relish getting old (once I get past my damn mid-life crisis) I want to have silvery white hair which i'll keep in a bun and sometimes put a lavender rinse on it, and wear lavender cologne and use a silver tipped cane which i'll use to poke people with to illustrate my points.

Jenn said...

Ok...now that I've finished laughing I can respond. I soooo understand everything you wrote about. Once, I had a bag of chocolate covered peanuts...mmmmmm....in the car. I did the same thing you did with your salad and ended up with melty globs under the seats for months.

I don't even need a bag to have trouble. We had a raw egg in the fridge...in the dairy shelf. I was pointing out to my mother that it was raw - lest she assume it was boiled and tried to eat it. Anyway...right as I said it, the egg rolled off the shelf and crashed on the floor.

My daughter said 'uh-oh'.

Melissa said...

I plan on doing all sorts of inappropriate things when I'm older. I'll use foul language just for fun when someone's least expecting it. I'll wear too much eye shadow just because I like it, not because it looks particularly attractive. I'll order bloody marys at all restaurant meals before noon, no exceptions. All sorts of things get added to the what-I'll-do-when-I'm-old list as the years tick by. I'm amassing an arsenal.

I can't get over your salad assembly problems. Every single time I get one of those blasted bags the same damn thing happens to me. The same. SAME. No difference. I guess packaging designers make equally eggregious mistakes on both sides of the pond. Oy vey. I'm off to open my pre-marinated turky breast with trepidation... I think I'll change into some ratty shorts and an old t-shirt first. All I need is a nice lemon and garlic oil stain on my new blouse. I just said blouse. What a terrible word.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa said...

P.S. That was me who deleted. I somehow posted the same comment twice, though that wasn't my intent. So, no - I did not write something saucy that I later thought better of. Although that would be much more entertaining than a simple slip of the keyboard.

Sandra said...

Oh God I just have to hang out with Melissa when we're old, we will have so much fun shoplifting cosmetics and swearing at bank tellers!! AFTER the Bloody Mary's of course!

Wendy said...

LOL! I love the fawn colored pee stinkin' trousers you'll wear! I've seen that before. I truly have! I think we're all in the same boat (or bag) when it comes to opening these things. I think there are teeny tiny microtransmitters in the package - filming the whole scene and transmitting it back to the manufacturers, who are all sitting around having a big old "yuck" about it. Yep, that's what's going on.

Anne said...

Oh..you make me laugh! :)

Pam said...

Awww, I wanted to be the first to say I would have a cane and poke people with it. Patti_cake beat me to it!!
Just where do you come up with this? This bubbling mass of words that makes you laugh and snort and oops. Have to change me drawers!!
You kill me boy, you just kill me. You need your own column. In the London Times or something.

Magpie said...

hubby eats tons of those package meals, they make me feel queasy...although I do tend to get sauces from jars as its easier than making your own...

and the eau de urine is given out free at the old peoples home hubbys grandma is in...lol

:0)

Deadly Female said...

Fish you make me giggle. I'm going to have a floppy purple hat when I'm old and wear a flowery skirt with Dr Martens. Oh wait, I do that now....

Deranged Doctor said...

Colin, look at all the people commenting on your post. Can't one of them just come over and cook for you? Or make the boys do it; time they started to earn their keep.

AJH said...

Colin, what a brilliant post. Who hasn't spilled those bloody bags of lettuce.
Love the new background BTW. I've been neglecting my blog reading recently and am seeing it for the first time.

Aims said...

Yep them darned bags of lettuce! I also have trouble with those ring pull can thingys too. They always snap off leaving the can perfectly sealed!

I'm not having too much luck with these word verifications today either!!!

Miladysa said...

lol!

I shall just have to eat out and threaten my children that I will go and live with them if they do not pay the restaurant bills. If that does not work, the chippy is the only other option.