Chronicles of outrage

The young: they are fools.

I was lucky, I learnt this at an early age. It began with the discovery that I was a fool myself. This foolishness had several dimensions, and applied to many things. Not knowing anything was only the beginning. Dependence on technology (even then) accelerated the process of mental rotting, so that by the age of thirty one’s mind was pure, refrigerated compost. Hence our saying, “Never trust anyone over thirty.”

Everywhere I look today, I see the results of youth.

I was very lucky, having, back then, some advantages not shared by most of my contemporaries. For instance, I was poor, and lacked connexions, and had the wit to drop out of school. Too, I was wandering about in strange places. Moreover, having learnt how to read, I had access to the wisdom of the ages.

Let us start with the importance of not owning a refrigerator. This was my good fortune for years on end (in an old workman’s cottage in merry London, which lacked other “amenities” as well, such as electricity, after I disconnected it). I loved that place, my nest in the big city. It was better even than the High Doganate, if that is not blasphemy.

I am utterly appalled — outraged, if thou wilt — to meet people today who put apples in refrigerators, to say nothing of the pears. Do they not know better? Or potatoes, carrots, even onions. Even garlic. Or tomatoes, and other things that rhyme. And that is just scratching the surface of public ignorance.

The list of things ruined in refrigerators, or stored there pointlessly at best, is long. It includes bananas, melons, mangoes, limes, and anything that came from the tropics. But the list also includes apricots and peaches, berries and all quasi-berries such as raspberries and strawberries, indeed, all the fruits of the temperate zone, too. God made winter to remind us of that.

Eggs do not belong in refrigerators. But neither do butters, nor cheeses, nor yoghurts, nor milk with any reasonable fat content (and “skim milk” is a fraud). Olive and vegetable oils must be kept out, together with nuts and anything made from them.

Pickles, ketchups, other condiments, belong on dark pantry shelves, along with anything shot through with the vinegar that already preserves it. This goes not only for hot sauces from the tropics, but for the peppers themselves, and all herbs and spices, whole or ground, fresh or dry. And soy-sauce.

And this goes, too, for all flours and cereals, jams and marmalades, chocolates, dried fruits or any other confection, coffee, and tea. Other foods were packed in tins for a reason, or were “canned” in sealed bottles by fair country maids.

Finally, do not keep live animals in a refrigerator, nor let your children sleep there on hot summer days. (That, traditionally, was what fire escapes were for.)

The only thing I can think of, that might benefit from refrigeration, is ice. If you insist on making ice cream, ice is a desideratum, along with lots of salt. But our clever ancestors invented ice boxes, which could operate entirely without artificial power.

I suppose an unwanted, unplugged old refrigerator could be adapted for this purpose, but it’s an ugly solution that will expose one to ridicule, if persons of sound mind suspect that it is working.


I also write on outrage in the Catholic Thing today. (Here.)