Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Random Acts of Refrigeration

You never know true culture shock until you refrigerate with natives of another country; especially those who spent their formative years with a very different-sized fridge than you did.

Strikingly few things are agreed upon as "must-refrigerate" by both the American (me) and the Serbs (everyone else) in our US household. These include milk, lumps of cheese (but not grated cheese), lunch meats, and lettuce. Some things, such as most fresh vegetables, get refrigerated by default because there's no pantry so the Serbs can't figure out where else to put them.

However, the Serbs feel the proper place for partly eaten food, such as a casserole or a jar of taco sauce clearly marked "Refrigerate After Opening", is in the oven or cupboards. They are genuinely mystified when I discover these items sometimes days later, wail with worry, and either throw them out or bundle them up for the fridge immediately.

I, on the other hand, am equally mystified why our fridge is packed with unopened canned goods such as anchovies and never-cracked bottled goods such as spare jars of mustard. (In fact there are three, never-opened huge jars of Grey Poupon in there right now, but somebody keeps putting the half-empty ketchup back in the cupboard instead.)

But then you know, if this is the biggest article of confusion and stress in our multinational family, then I am a lucky woman indeed. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

3 comments:

sasha said...

you understood the reason quite well.
"Some things, such as most fresh vegetables, get refrigerated by default because there's no pantry so the Serbs can't figure out where else to put them."
In most new built (last 20-30 years0) homes, ussualy there are no pantrys for some strange reason. Maybe they are not " modern". But in old houses you dont have such problems and proabably wont see such behaviour.
Cheers from Sombor

Holly said...

OH oh oh..Rosemary, This is so very true. The leftovers, just left on the stove or in the oven..for "later" or even tomorrow!! I have lectured and lectured on bacteria growth, food safety standards, and the "keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold; and none left for more than two hours" rule until I am hoarse, but my Croatian husband and MIL just think I'm a nutter. They give in when here in America, but! It frustrates me to no end. Same problems!

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