Would you like some salsa with your pasta and peanut butter canned corn with celery?

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Early morning, around 4:30 or so, is my favorite time of day because of coffee and breakfast. The rest of the day I morosely drink my java bitter and joylessly and pitch black, but the first cup is when I allow myself a dollop of heavy cream mixed with a dollop of whole milk. Fat plus the pungent smell of the fresh grounds plus caffeine equals yum.

Then there’s breakfast which is fruit and oatmeal or yogurt with nuts and more yum.

Since Mrs. WM is leaving for the wilds of Japan shortly, she has been reminding me that without her I will starve. “What you gonna eat?” she demands with a satisfied smile. “You gonna hungry all day.”

“I’m hungry all day anyway. And peanut butter.”

“You can’t onna peanut butter for breakfast lunchin dinner.”

“That’s true.”

“You can’t onna Domino’s every day,” she added.

“That’s true, too.”

“So whatchu gonna do?” she will triumphantly smile as she waltzes off to Zumba in her cute green shoes.

That question bothered me, so for the first time in a few years I opened one of the kitchen cabinets while she was off doing her obasan-dance class. The only place more off limits for me than the panty drawer is the cupboard.

I was surprised to find that in the first cabinet there weren’t any dishes, but rather fifteen boxes of spaghetti. Even I can cook spaghetti. My research revealed more surprises. Eight jars of chipotle salsa. Three jars of Bonne Maman raspberry jam and two of marmalade, one from Dean’s wine farm in San Diego.

Twenty-three packs of Japanese instant ramen, the good stuff, and fourteen packages of House curry. Twelve big cans of tomatoes. Four big bags of rice and three jars of Nutella. What is Nutella?

My search took me into the hall closet where I found … more pasta, a box of crackers, two boxes of cereal, canned corn, and a secret stash of peanut butter, which no one eats except me.

I took all this stuff and laid it out on the dining table, which it covered. There was enough food here for an Arctic expedition and I hadn’t even screwed up my courage to look in the fridge, a place I was allowed to extract milk from but from where I am otherwise banned, especially behind the walls.

What are the behind the walls? Mrs. WM stocks the fridge the same way she stocks the crockery cabinets with pasta: She crams it all in. There is a narrow front ledge with milk and yogurt and a plastic carton of olives but behind that each shelf is a solid wall that must be unpacked to learn what is behind, say, the giant bags of celery, a food no one here eats.

I unpacked the walls and found many things: Kimchee, my beloved kimchee! Baby carrots, more celery, apples, vintage raspberries that were covered in mold, more celery, a half-eaten tub of hummus, old bread, many jars of opened chipotle salsa, and a huge tub of meat sauce. The crisper drawers were even more amazing. Bacon, sausage, more celery, onions, shallots, tubs of miso, and thank dog, more celery.

By now it was lunchtime and Mrs. WM was due home from Zumba. I took out some celery, poured some canned corn into a small bowl, cracked out a jar of peanut butter and a slice of bread, and opened up the Nutella stuff. It looked nasty but there might be some synergy there with the peanut butter, I thought, smearing the peanut butter and Nutella on a banana.

There was! Holy crap! This Nutella stuff is the shit!

Mrs. WM came home to find me happily ensconced in my treasure trove, and she was none too pleased, not just about the sense of pantry violation and my expose’ of her somewhat haphazard grocery shopping habits, but worse, the obvious fact that whatever happened to me between now and September, it wouldn’t be starvation.

“You can’t gonna ride onna bicycle eatin’ Nutella spaghetti and butter and salsa,” she said.

“Watch me,” I said, munching happily. “Just watch me.”

END

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