I once singlehandedly saved a chocolate cheesecake from near certain annihilation and senseless waste.
One summer morning I awoke to find the blasted fridge had given out at last, and in so doing it pushed some of my biggest OCD buttons - wasted food, wasted money, bacteria. The milk was warm, the cheese greasy, the eggs near hatching. I wrenched open the freezer to find all our frozen meat bleeding next to a very rich, very expensive Godiva Cheesecake.
I began to pull out tufts of hair. What to do? How could I salvage any of it? Beg the neighbors to babysit our perishables for a few days? Start cooking the meat on sticks over a bonfire in the backyard and invite the community for a caveman-like meet and greet? Hand out eggs and chicken breasts to passing motorists with a friendly admonishment, "You cook that real soon, you hear?"
No, none of that was practical. I was going to have to make some hard decisions. Very little could be salvaged, but it would have to happen quickly. A braver, better woman would have started cooking up meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, throwing in the wilting veggies from the crisper, but it's been established already that I have no love of cooking. I especially detest doing it under abnormal pressure. And I FEAR germs. No, some of the meat would have to go - preferably to the curb where I couldn't smell it. The eggs were also a tragic loss; they had had enough time to incubate some righteous salmonella, I was sure. The milk we'd try to choke back, perhaps. And the veggies would be alright.
But there was something else, the most expensive thing residing in that fridge and the one that least deserved such a tragedy. I had to save it from the garbage, a fate worse than consumption, by consuming it - with relish.
The Godiva Cheesecake.
I had my doubts about whether one woman could do it alone. The most I had ever eaten at one sitting was two-thirds of a slice, but this was a moment to separate the sweet-lover from the die-hard chocolate addict. It wasn't a whole cheesecake, a few slices had been shared with my sister Vinca and my brother-in-law, but there was enough of it to make me simultaneously salivate and sweat at the prospect. I dug in, stressed out and frustrated....which is exactly as it should be when you reach for that chocolate fix.
Forkful after forkful - delicious! Yet I was grimly spooning it down the hatch as if someone had bet a thousand bucks I couldn't put 10 pounds on my hips in one day. I had never in my life encountered such an excellent excuse for indulging my chocolate demon.
Though I tried valiantly, alas! I couldn't finish the cheesecake. I threw out the remainder with the rest of the bad food. That night my husband brought home fresh milk and ice for the cooler.
But when I opened the fridge the next morning, something was fishy. The temperature dials were both turned to off. Could it be? Was it all for naught? I called my (then) preschooler.
"Berto! Come here now. Did you play with these dials a couple days ago? Before the fridge gave out?"
I pointed them out to my little guy, the little guy who loved to get in the fridge and leave the door ajar. Sheepishly he answered, "Yeesss..."
My now broader thighs seemed to be jiggling with laughter, mocking me. I could have salvaged the food simply by investigating the most obvious. The cheesecake would have survived to see another day...or four or five, savored properly with coffee and my Man for company. With a mix of relief and perturbation, I turned the dials back and soon the refrigerator was humming as I made an extensive grocery list. We didn't need a new fridge, after all. But we would need more chocolate. We were fresh out.