Sake Gumi

Why do all mothers pack their fridge so much? You might remember Kayoko's mother's fridge that took her three posts to dig up, and my mom's fridge was just as packed. Is it the war they experienced that makes them keep everything, even the tiniest bit?  In Japan, the "mottainai" ("it's a shame to throw out") concept is tattooed into many people's head, hence everything is kept for who knows how long. Things expired, things moldy, things with two pieces in jars were abundant, and when I told mom to throw them out, she kept saying "mottainai, mottainai."

Having said that, here is her fridge. I knew Mom would be upset if she saw me taking pictures of her fridge, so I had to examine it pretty quickly. In her defense, things were categorized somewhat. Top two shelves had butter, pickled something and homemade items that are not used frequently. Third and Fourth shelves were things that she uses often. Bottom one is for meat.


Door. Second shelf left corner is tubed condensed milk, for putting on top of strawberries. Expired ten years ago. When I told Mom about it, she said "No problem, we can still use it." Horror.


Freezer: I have no idea what 70 means there, but they were small packets of thinly sliced pork. In Japan, they don't have Ziploc bags with the easy zips, so I brought bunch for her last time. I bet I would find some dead animal if I dug deep enough into here.  By the way, this is the top tier of the freezer that slides so you can find things easily, (or not).  In terms of how fridges are made in Japan, it's pretty genius. Two tiered freezers are a very smart idea.


Bottom tier of freezer. More unknown items. Just so you know, the milk carton (on the bottom right) actually contains leftover Rendung (Indonesian beef stew) which I made the night before. According to Mom, milk containers uses the best quality paper so it's very ideal for storing things. She also uses them to absorb oils when frying tempura. It surely absorbed oil quite well.


Bottom fridge, top tier. Again, this compartment is consists of two tiers. Totally awesome beef waiting to be consumed via shabu-shabu.


Look at this! Totally umami porn. Every new year's eve, my uncle brings us very high quality shabushabu meat. This is about $10 for 100 grams. This package contains about 1kg, which means it's about $100. It is worth every penny.


This is a small compartment above freezer for fast freezing purpose. When you need to freeze meat or fish, you want to do so very quickly to keep freshness. It is of course used for different purpose, or just another freezer.  Shameful.


Here are some of the interesting items I found before I got busted by Mom yelling, "Why are you taking pictures of my fridge?!!"  This is homemade yuzu pepper. My mom makes everything.


When she tastes something she thinks she can recreate, she does it. I guess I am totally my mom's son, since I do exactly the same thing all the time. Usually yuzu pepper is green, that's because they make it with summer yuzu (before it ripens). In winter time, all the yuzu available is yellow, but it basically tastes the same. She peels the skin, food processes it, and mixes it with hot pepper powder. The store bought version uses green yuzu with fresh green chill pepper, but homemade version is as good, and looks prettier.

Homemade pickled ginger. The color red is derived from red shiso. She doesn't screw with food coloring, which is all the store bought red gingers are colored.


Caspian yogurt she eats everyday.


Some unknown jam of sorts. Pretty sure she made it herself. Could be marmalade, but not sure. I was too scared to open it.


The label (tied with rubber bands) said yuzu miso. Probably she mixed yuzu with miso. Don't know what she intends to use it for.


Though she wouldn't allow me, I would love to go deep into the freezer contents and see what other kind of horrors I could find.  I told you there were bunch of expired items, and the best or most scary item was a jar of corn syrup, which expired in 1994. Yes it's just corn syrup, and those things usually last forever, but 1994 is 16 years ago. Of course she insisted on keeping it and I didn't object.

Oh, you might wonder about all the glass jars. She has a box full of empty glass jars so that she can pack whatever she makes..  Also she is a garbage Nazi. There are seven different trash containers in her kitchen:

1. Cans

2. Styrofoam containers that will be recycled at supermarket

3. Roughly clean plastic

4. Definitely dirty plastic and other dirty stuff

5. Rood particles that will be thrown out in the garden as fertilizer

6. Egg shells that will be mixed into flower pots as fertilizer

7. Food parts that are sort of edible to be cut into small pieces and microwaved, then mixed into my brother's dog food.

Everytime I am in her kitchen, she digs through everything I throw out and separates it properly.

I love you, Mother.
Column: Fridgin Out


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