I spent last Friday cleaning out the refrigerator because the whole house smelled like something had died.
Green onions had died. They died from neglect and non-consumption, and ended their two-week life in the fridge by pulverizing themselves into a thoughtful, brownish liquid and spilling all over the bottom bin.
The green onions belonged to one of my roommates. I know this because they a.) both regularly cook and b.) are vegetarian.
Exploding vegetables is the only downside to living with vegetarians. Trust me; almost all my roommates over the past nine years have been vegetarians. The green onion episode was not my first, second, or even eighth time removing a slimy, wet bag of vegetables from the bottom drawer.
The vegetables are a welcomed addition to the fridge before they explode. They’re healthy and colorful and have uplifting phrases like “good source of…” written on their bags.
But one day — one day, friends — the vegetables will turn on you. They will turn on you and explode.
Exploded vegetables is one of the worst, most offensive smells imaginable: a layer of body odor stench permeating the house, like a bad banana that’s been sitting out in the sun for a month. In Calcutta.
There’s no discrimination. Any vegetable can go bad very quickly, as well as pasta (Beware opening that tupperware! Especially if the pasta was made with cheese...ten days ago).
The absolute worst of the worst, though, is the smell of exploded potatoes. Have you ever smelled exploded potatoes? It’s positively gag inducing. It makes dog poop smell like roses, sewage smell like apple pie. I often wonder how French fries are so delicious.
There really is no excuse for potatoes to get to the point of exploding. They warn you by sprouting these gross white polyps all over and then you’ve got two, maybe three days until the warfare.
Let’s just say your college roommate decided to put a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes on the top shelf of a dark pantry and forgot about them for a month.
You’ll wake up one day to an unusually sweet, but foul smell that could arguably rival the stench of a rotting dead body, with slow-moving flies hovering over the bag of liquid and the sticky, brown goo spilling (burning?) through the bag, forming a layer on the shelf.
Smelling potato liquid up close in order to clean it up and the mountains of brown-stained paper towels filling up stinking up the trash can is an absolute nightmare.
The only silver lining from that experience is that I now have a great plan of revenge for any enemies. It will only cost a few bucks and a month of waiting.
Once the polyps sprout, the bag will be shoved in a forgotten closet or car trunk of an unsuspecting victim. I honestly can’t think of a worse prank. I’d rather have shrimp heads, or a skunk in heat, hidden somewhere over exploded potatoes.
I could chock up the veggies going bad to forgetfulness, or (in the potato case) dumb college moves, but I think the real reason veggies turn sour is that it’s hard to buy and eat vegetables for just one.
I don’t know why, but none of my vegetarian roommates have ever consolidated their produce, and, really, who can eat an entire onion by themselves before it goes bad? Or a stalk of broccoli? Better question: who would want to??
Not only is it a lot of food to consume, but people get sick of broccoli and asparagus and cabbage and then they have an impromptu happy hour and end up eating dinner at the restaurant and then Oh! Another thing after work the next day! and the veggies never get cooked and a week later someone is breathing into her armpit as she takes liquid green onions out of the fridge. (For example).
I know how annoying it is grocery shopping for one. I get funny looks from the deli people when I ask for a quarter pound of turkey. No, not a half-pound. A quarter pound. Yes, 8 slices. Thanks.
Loaves of bread routinely end up turning moldy and hard as a rock. Gallons of milk turn to chunks. Grape tomatoes get wrinkly. Strawberries get covered with a fuzzy layer of mold. And, for some reason (see: sucker) I end up being the one throwing everything away.
This is why I hardly ever buy vegetables. The only reason I go to the produce section is to get onions (because I love onions and can, actually, eat a whole one before it goes bad) and avocados, when they are ripe and not ridiculously overpriced.
I often wonder what the inside of my fridge would look like if I lived alone. Probably just a case of diet coke, a six-pack of beer, string cheese and pre-made dinners. And eight slices of turkey and an onion.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Jenny, that’s it? That’s all that you’d keep in your fridge??
Yes. Don’t worry. I’m not counting the vodka because it belongs in the freezer. And it never explodes.