Monday, May 9, 2011

The refrigerator nazi is ruining my lunch break

Dear Tricia, At work we have a fridge Nazi who doesn't want anything stored in the fridge. I used to go shopping for my lunches each week and store them in the crisper bin. With my busy schedule of full time work and full time grad school, I need to leave my lunches at work. Now that I can't, what do you suggest I can buy that doesn't require refrigeration and can be kept in my pantry that the Nazi has lovingly dubbed my "Holocaust cabinet?" (Seriously).  Side note: I usually have tuna in packets, nuts, canned soups and Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers.

Heh, you said crisper bin.  That's so funny- it makes you sound so polite and stuff.  Except when you call people Nazis.  Its weird though that Fridge Nazi gives you space in the pantry, but not the fridge.  That makes no sense to me.  Who is this person??!

You've got a good start going with the tuna packets, etc.   I like that.  Don't forget that chicken and salmon also come in cans and packets.    Toss that stuff in some mayo, mustard and relish and slap it on some bread for a quick chicken salad sammy.   Keep a can opener at work.  Amy's also makes really good organic chili that kinda blows my mind.

Here's something that's kinda interesting though when it comes to making sandwiches or tuna salad with mayo: people freak out about mayonnaise being left out.  I had a super Type-A client (we recognize our own kind in a heartbeat) who was really specific about her gourmet picnic menu because she didn't want any mayonnaise in it.  "It'll get us all sick in the hot sun!," she told me.   Ok, I get that.  I don't want hot mayonnaise either.  If you read my deviled egg blog in April, you'll know that I HATE mayonnaise, whether it be hot or cold or covered in kisses from David Bowie in his Labrynth costume.  But guess what?  It won't get you sick if you leave it out.  The pH of mayonnaise is actually too acidic to host any kind of bacteria.  For instance, if potato salad goes bad, it's the potatoes that get you sick, not the mayonnaise.  If anything, the mayonnaise helps preserve the potato salad longer.  So if you decide to make a sandwich with some mayo on it, don't worry about keeping it cold.  It's the other stuff on the sandwich you want to think about.

When it comes to keeping things cool, people tend to forget that you've actually got a 4 hour window of leaving food out at room temperature before you're at risk of getting sick.   This comes in handy if you get to work at 9 and eat around 12:30.  You're good to go.  Seriously.  Don't worry about it.

You know what's really good?  Asian tuna salad.  It's just like regular tuna salad with mayo and mustard, but instead of relish, you throw some sesame oil and sriracha in there and add some sesame seeds.  All of those extra things are non-perishable.   Yum yum doodle dum.

Peanut butter and bananas rolled into a tortilla is such a guilty pleasure of mine.  That little bit of heaven is A.O.K. to leave out, the bananas just turn brown.

I know that, should the health inspector read my blog, they would freak out over me saying this... but cooked bacon is safe.  Bacon is so well-preserved by the salt that its cured in, that you should have nothing to worry about when you wake up on Sunday morning and find the bacon you left out after cooking it at 2am on Saturday night.   I fully support your decision to eat that.

I wish I had a better solution for veggies and fresh fruit- those guys just need to stay refrigerated after they're cut.  But if you're game for stocking up your Holocaust closet for a few days, a lot of it will be fine for a few days if its not cut.  Think about shopping in your local grocery store: which veggies and fruit are set out at room temperature?  Apples, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, onions, pears, oranges... use that as your reference. Other really yummy non perishable things to add to your lunch to make it feel more veggie-friendly: dried sugar snap peas (I think they're marketed as snap-eas), dried carrot or beet chips, and dried cranberries. 

I looked up the definition of Fridge Nazi on and here's what I found:

One or a group whose sole purpose of existence is the stocking of delicious, predominantly gourmet, food in a refrigerator. In the case that said sustenance is consumed, Fridge Nazi becomes livid with indignant fury at perpetrator of such a heinous and ignominious infraction of eating food from a refrigerator.

Sounds like your Fridge Nazi is the kind that doesn't even contribute to the fridge, they just boss you around.  No worries- you're in grad school!  Someday you'll be Fridge Nazi's boss and will be able to stock your own personal gold and diamond encrusted fridge with all kinds of delicately perishable items covered in David Bowie kisses.

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