From the 7-16-10 edition of Hoboken’s Progress…
It’s endlessly fascinating to me how we have learned to do the things we do, and how we go through life believing our ways are the only strategies to get something done. For one, my roommate has an affinity for using the freezer.
Every time I open it, I feel like I’m on an old school episode of Let’s Make A Deal: Behind Door Number #1 are three bottles of peach mandarin Vitamin Water, half drunk, and now frozen; Behind Door Number #2 is a box of Frosted Mini Wheats, almost frozen; and Behind Door Number #3 are a dozen, individually wrapped Italian rolls, which are freezing as we speak.
I’m incredibly entertained by this habit, probably inherited from her mother.
I too have learned behavior from my parents, such as the paranoid thought of having to unplug every appliance in the kitchen before I leave for work. Too many memories of my mom shrieking, Did we uplug the toaster?!? shortly followed by my dad turning the station wagon around on the parkway to make sure that the coffee maker and toaster were unplugged are permanently fixed into my brain. I unplug without even thinking.
The only way to change up our habits is to be called out on it.
My roommates and I love to spring such questions on each other, partly because it can be fun to watch someone get defensive over something silly like learning that her methods for cleaning the shower aren’t the best.
More frequently, questions of this kind pop up when cooking is concerned. For example, this past weekend, we learned a lot by questioning each other. Someone’s mother always had her own way of doing it, so when my roommates and I cook together, there are a lot of voices in the kitchen with opinions on how to boil the potatoes for potato salad, or just how much to salt that vat of boiling water for pasta.
This weekend, besides making potato salad and apple crisp for a little summer get-together, it was time to grill. I bought a $15 grill from A&P, and a mini bag of charcoal, and then ransacked my brain trying to think of how my dad used something like this in the days before we had propane. Thoughts of my dad making burgers the way he liked: small and round enough to roll out of the bun (the only way to keep them juicy, he insisted) filtered in and out of my head while I watched my boyfriend sculpt his own. I said nothing, but watched. Ahh, I thought, he only uses salt and pepper for seasoning, interesting.
It’s times like these when you realize that most of the general knowledge you know may only be as accurate as Wikipedia. What we think we know is constantly being edited or half-forgotten, and after a while, after being called out by a friend, what you think you know may not even be correct.
There was a lot of learning last weekend, though I’m still not quite sure what beneficial effects the freezer has on Frosted Mini Wheats. I still have to call that one out.
Update: After my roommate sent this column out to her friends, she was called out by a few more people beside myself as to why she freezes the breakfast treat. She inquired further from her mother as to why cereal is usually in the freezer at her parent’s house, and her mother said it was only because she ran out of cabinet space.
For the purpose of this post, we could not have asked for a better reason.