When it comes to a food’s expiration date, maybe you only think you know what that means …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red expected the simple task of cleaning out our mother’s pantry would be a mindless, yet productive, way to spend her Saturday; whereas Black was concerned it might be a day filled with sad memories – we were both wrong.
Our mom had passed in mid-December, and Red had decided the first part of her house she’d tackle was the walk-in pantry. And while Black thought it was an odd place to begin, she figured it would go quickly as she expected it would be a well-curated collection of expired products, and couldn’t help but wonder if some of them dated back to when our parents still lived in our childhood home in New York. (Black remembers them shipping pantry items and old plastic food containers when they moved to Texas decades ago.)
For years, Red had wanted to “freshen up” the pantry or, at the very least, throw out anything “dated” more than a few years ago, but our mom was a self-proclaimed depression-era child, so wouldn’t waste anything. Now, Red faced row upon row of cans of salmon and tuna next to jars of gefilte fish and mayonnaise, much of which expired when her younger daughter, today a college freshman, was still in middle school. And she couldn’t help but feel an odd mix of bewilderment and amusement, with a bit of “yuck” thrown in for good measure.
As Red started to send Black photos with the stamped dates to “prove” why she was trashing so much (and to help ease her guilt of getting rid of things that our mom thought worthy of saving), she noticed that some items had “expiration dates” while others had “best by,” “sell by,” or “use by” dates, and wondered about the differences, and was surprised when Black commented,
Actually, except for baby formula, those dates are not federally regulated. So, I think of them as mere suggestions. I can remember explaining that to a former boyfriend who was trying to clean out my pantry. Think about it. What can “go bad” in dried pasta or matzo? Items that, in many ways, start off stale.
At first, Red started to panic because if that were true, she’d have to reevaluate the mini grocery store of old, expired items she’d already trashed. But then she stopped and quietly laughed to herself when she realized it didn’t matter as the dates were so far in the past that it was a no-brainer. And the good news is that when it comes to the pantry, if you wait long enough, some suggestions become obvious decisions.
Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.
For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.
We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?
National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.
Red admits that although she knows bagels aren’t a healthy choice, she’ll occasionally treat herself, not only because they remind her of growing up in New York when almost every town on Long Island had at least one bagel shop, but because she loves whipped cream cheese almost as much as the fresh, squishy bagel on which she smears it. And while she was a fan of both cinnamon raisin and onion bagels as a kid, the introduction of the “Everything” bagel was a turning point. However, her all-time favorite is technically not a bagel, as it’s a bialy.
On the other hand, it only takes one look at Black’s “selfishly svelte figure” to know that she has the willpower to resist bagels (including her favorite, sesame) as well as all the other carbs that she loves, but when it comes to National Bagel Day and the “health” issues of bagels, she has an interesting perspective,
Bagels are one of life’s true culinary pleasures, often tied to wonderful memories, so you cannot always measure their value in terms of nutrition. But, when it comes to healthy eating, it might be interesting to remember that bagel-cutting injuries are common and result in thousands of people having to go to emergency rooms or urgent care centers … so, celebrate carefully.
Another year and another National Clean Your Desk Day (yes, that’s actually a thing). So, is Red’s desk any better than the “disaster” it was last year? Well, believe it or not, it may not be perfect, but it’s significantly better. Is it because she finally listened to Black’s advice (see below) or somehow found a “secret” of her own? As it turns out, it was a combination of the two as Red discovered, even if the rest of her life isn’t “nice and neat” (that’ll never happen), she loves walking into her workroom in the morning and starting the day in a (somewhat) organized space, which provides the best motivation for keeping it that way. (Luckily, Black never brought up the science of messy desks.)
A day to clean up your desk?! It will take way more than a day …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: No one is immune from piles of paper, not even Black, the master of organization, but there’s a huge difference between a desk with a few small piles and some scattered papers (although her laptop’s keyboard needs serious cleaning) and Red’s “workroom” that usually looks like a tornado hit it.
Which is why Red rolled her eyes when Black mentioned today’s National Clean Your Desk Day, as it’d take her significantly more than a day to “clean up this mess,” but then she remembered Black’s advice on how to keep her piles (and piles) of paper under control and felt inspired. Red admits often feeling like she’s drowning in paper, but that’s because she lets the piles get out of control before reminding herself of Black’s very easy, straightforward approach to turning her mountains of paper into small manageable hills. And, significantly reducing stress along the way, because as Black points out,
Sometimes, it is more important to know what you are ignoring than it is to deal with everything in the piles.