I never really had to scrape. I mean there’s always American Express, so I never lived on pancakes, dined on cereal, or feasted on Ramen. In college, I baked a wheel of brie on 325 degrees while I wrote my thesis. If I ever got hungry for expensive, I’d dial home or tell an otherwise “no” date, “yes.” I soon learned I’d rather sleep hungry and awake thin than break free bread with a “he’s nice enough but” guy. And there’s always a “but.”
We do it all the time. When I’m low on cash, I dig through hangers, arm over arm, reaching toward the back of my closet full of nothing to wear to resurrect a once important, now forgotten, item. I’ll find a new use for an ordinary button down shirt; instead, I’ll wear it open over a lacy tank. From quelle boring to trés chic. Voila.
What’s old is new again. Can you do it with love? Can love be an item in your pantry, or does it have to be fresh to be good? I mean, when I’m too lazy to schlep to Fairway and brave the crowd or stand behind the woman who pays with the loose change at the bottom of her it’s-too-heavy-so-I’ll-just-wheel-it-on-a-pulley bag, I stay home and squeeze tomato paste from a tube. I fry it in olive oil with red pepper flakes and the old garlic that’s just turned green and begun to sprout things. I toss in capellini and know if I had energy I’d have feathered in a basil chiffonade. I know it could taste better if I weren’t lazy. But this is good enough. This will do. Then it spreads over into my life. I notice it’s not just my dinner; it’s my relationships. They become pantry. They become “this will do.” Nothing fresh, long shelf lives of the expected and sturdy. Right up there with lentils.
Pantries, like clumsy relationships, are convenient, filled with easy and basic. Even with hot curry and saffron, pantry life can be uninspired. I need some serious inspiration.