Ralph Gardner Jr: Stockpiling In Style | WAMC

Ralph Gardner Jr: Stockpiling In Style

Mar 14, 2020

Ralph stocks his freezer

I’m not sure what it says about my priorities – but I hope something pleasant – that two of my first purchases, addressing the current crisis, were birdseed and alcohol; while I suppose the alcohol could double as a disinfectant that’s not its intended purpose.

I’m still not sure what I’m provisioning for or against – it seems unlikely that supply chains will crumble – but there is some deep-seated satisfaction, probably emanating from the depths of the prehensile, survival-at-all-costs part of the brain that comes with knowing that you’re all set if the Smirnoff distillery’s workers head for the hills or the government issues some edit that henceforth and for the duration black oil sunflower seed must serve as a human nutritional supplement rather than for the benefit of the flock of goldfinch currently hogging my birdfeeders.

I also purchased a freezer – something I’ve been planning to do for years and now seemed as good a time as any. The price was eminently reasonable not because of any run on freezers but considering that it includes a convenient interior LED light that shines on my new stash of grass-fed burger patties and Haagen-Dazs ice cream – quarts of vanilla bean and coffee – whenever you lift the hood.

Again, I’m not sure what I’m provisioning against so my wife and I have decided to purchase only things we’d buy anyway. I’m feeling especially bullish knowing that I have a dozen bagels, mostly poppy seed and everything bagels, from my Manhattan supplier, Taj Bagels sitting in the bowels of my freezer.

There is, of course, the question of perishability. Is the “best by” date a non-negotiable rule or a polite suggestion? As I was stockpiling for this apocalypse I came across a stash from some previous one in our catchall. For the life of me I can’t recall what the existential threat was back then– viral, terroristic, meteorological. All I know is that it broke my heart to throw out two cartons of ramen noodles, one chicken the other beef, dating to the Bush administration. The son’s not the father’s.

I mean how bad can dried noodles with an envelope of powered seasoning be? A thousand years from now they’ll probably taste as good as they do today, or did when they expired in October, 2005.

Regarding only buying things we’d use anyway, I’m being somewhat disingenuous. I mean when was the last time, prior to a few days ago, that I bought frozen corn and spinach? By the time they’re called into service things will have to have gotten so dire that zombies will be appearing on my Ring app at our front door.

But here’s a philosophical question for you: if you’re stockpiling against epic disaster, civilizational chaos, the utter disintegration of society do you have to wait until then to raid your new freezer or can you start now? Is this stuff only for emergencies? I’m having a hard time resisting the baby rack of lamb I bought at one of my trusted local purveyors. Same goes for the boxes of pasta and the industrial-sized jars of peanut butter and mayonnaise. Must I buy other condiments for everyday use?

I asked my wife, who was on her way to the Bartlett House Bakery and Café in Ghent, NY and makers of the best croissant around, to inquire whether it might be possible to special order frozen croissant dough so we could just stick it in the oven at some future date while you’re in lockdown and enjoy a fresh, warm Parisian quality croissant with artisanal butter and raspberry jam. The jam courtesy of the store brand receptacle, large enough for a month of lunches at a midsize public school or an army base, that I also recently purchased.

Unsurprisingly, she refused.

Speaking of jam, or rather butter, my daughter informed me that while sweet butter only stays good for a few months, the salt in salt butter preserves it for a year or more in the freezer. So now I’ve got some of each. While things like rubbing alcohol and disinfectant wipes were sold out at my local supermarket I was encouraged to see that my favorite chocolate-covered pretzels remained in robust supply. My hunch is they’ll come in handier in a pinch than a bunch of moist towelettes.

By the way, don’t take my word for anything. Do you own research. However, I did an Internet search about whether heavy cream is freezable and, low and behold, it is. So while my meat diet may eventually consist of Hasenpfeffer – that’s squirrel stew courtesy of my local sunflower feeder-raiding rodents and my trusty .22 rifle – it’s comforting to know that it will come with a side of pasta in a creamy butter and parmesan-infused sauce.

That reminds me. I better purchase a heroic wedge of authentic Parmigianino Reggiano before it’s sold out. I looked that up, too. Deep frozen Parmesan will keep approximately forever. That should be long enough.

Ralph Gardner, Jr. is a journalist who divides his time between New York City and Columbia County. More of his work can be found at ralphgardner.com

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.