Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rhoda's Real Food Refrigerator

Some years back, long before I had children, I visited my parents' home in Bethlehem.  I saw my old life with fresh eyes and one of the things that amazed me was the content of her refrigerator.  At this point, I was used to the American way of life, when I opened up her refrigerator and saw this, I had to take a picture:  

My mother's refrigerator

What surprised me was that almost all of the contents of her fridge were fresh produce!  The sheer quantity was something to behold.  Would my husband and I even be able to eat all of that before it spoiled?  I'm not sure.  What I do know is that my mother is dead against food waste, so I am sure that she used it all.  If you had all of that in your fridge, I think it would change the way you ate.  Instead of reaching for some low-nutrient snack food, you would grab a nectarine or some grapes. 

And to think that this is how I grew up.  I lived this way, but I am somehow still amazed. 

In the West Bank, fruit and vegetables are very affordable, particularly in comparison to meat.  Their meat prices are much higher, comparable to what you would pay here from grass-fed poultry or meats or wild-caught seafood.  So, while my parents do eat a fair amount of meat (they store that in a deep-freezer), you can see here what drives their meals- produce.  A salad with every meal, plus a cooked vegetable, and then a starch and a protein. 

The large round container on the top shelf is a tub of yogurt, whole, plain, tart.  Behind that, on top of the orange container, is a tub of hummus.  She often buys these because in Palestine, they are really as good, and just as natural as homemade.  My parents often mix the fruit yogurt with plain for a bedtime snack.  What you don't see is their milk, butter and condiments (my father loves spicy mustard) stored in their door. 

Notice the fabric in the lower left drawer?  My mother puts produce that she wants to preserve into an old pillow case, to extend it's life.  It's a clever trick that my sister and I also use in our homes.  Another bonus- the drawer stays clean and you just have to throw the pillowcases in the laundry from time to time. 

Here's what wasn't in her fridge:

On a lark, I also snapped a shot of these eggs that my mother buys from the farm at the top of her hill.  (Did I know that I would be eating real traditional foods in ten years and that this would be really interesting to me?  I must have been prescient.)  Notice that they are unwashed and stored outside of the refrigerator, as fresh unwashed eggs should be. 

So, after seeing that picture, I snapped a shot of my own fridge to compare.  Fully disclosure:  unlike my mother's fridge, which I just opened up the door and snapped a photo,  I did take a few minutes to arrange the contents of my fridge.  My refrigerator is not usually artfully arranged.  But maybe it should be?

My refrigerator

After seeing them side-by-side, I can see that I am getting there.  The thing is, I have put in a concerted effort to by more produce, and I am making headway.  But I find it interesting that what requires effort on my part comes naturally to my mother.  And I don't think that my mother's way of stocking her fridge is unusual in Palestine.  I think it is probably the norm. 

What's in your fridge?  Are you moving away or towards your mother's fridge?


  1. Oh, I am obsessed with looking in people's refrigerators and pantries! Yours (and your mom's!) looks so inviting.

    Mine is filled with good stuff, but it isn't half so attractive or organized. Someday... ;)

  2. You are too kind. I can say that it doesn't look like that today! Once a week, before my big shopping trip, I try to clean out the fridge a little and discard any food that has gone off, and then restock it. It just so happened that I shot this picture right after that. I hate a cluttered fridge, but I always have leftovers in containers, so sometimes it can get overrun.

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