How many people does your fridge need to feed?
Two-ish. Mostly me, sometimes Mathew, my stepson who lives with me, and any of his friends or my friends—whoever’s around.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Coffee. In the winter I have oatmeal sometimes. The rest of the year I have cereal and milk. And a piece of fruit. I always have fruit.
Is there anything you eat every day?
An orange or an apple. Beer. A shot of bourbon.
Pasta. Beef in some shape or manner.
What item are you forbidden from purchasing right now?
I never buy soda. I should throw away the soda someone left in there. Cookies.
What’s the most delicious thing in here?
The candy hidden in the plastic container at the back of the bottom shelf. It’s homemade fudge and penuche from last Christmas. It’s still good. I probably have a piece or two a week; I’m almost through it. Penuche is a candy made from brown sugar and butter and vanilla. There’s also fruitcake. It’s probably from Christmas, too, but someone just gave it to me a week ago. In the freezer there’s pesto I make from basil in my garden. Then there’s this Russian flour: it’s made from a kind of cherry. I think you make muffins and things with it. I forgot all about it until just now; I’ll have to try something with it.
The most disgusting?
This is some kind of cat food glop from three weeks ago. I’m looking after someone’s cat and it apparently has a very finicky appetite, so she gave me this homemade cat food made with meat and vegetables. I gave it to the cat two nights running and it didn’t eat any of it, so I decided that I was sympathetic to that cat and I wouldn’t feed it anymore of it. I’ve been cooking it ground veal, meatloaf mix, ground pork, ground beef…. And, following instructions, I also mash up an antacid pill with the mortar and pestle and I sprinkle a little bit of that on top of the meat. If the cat gets into the kitchen at night it likes to eat bread and English muffins that it finds on the counter and then shreds to bits on the floor.
The placenta is not in the freezer anymore, although it was for several years after my youngest was born. We forgot about it until we were cleaning the freezer out. It had a date on it that was significant so we figured out what it was.
Anything you regret buying?
No, I bought everything for a reason.
What's your guilty pleasure?
Besides popcorn? Hot sausage. Homemade cookies. Despite the cookies, I’m less into desserts than I used to be 20 or 30 years ago. I thought that dinner had to end with dessert and I don’t always feel that way now.
Where do you do most of your food shopping?
I buy the bulk at the local Key Food. I buy some produce, meat, and fish from Union Market. They have a really nice butcher shop and good, fresh fish. In the summer I tend to buy more produce at the farmer’s market on Saturdays. In my garden I grow rhubarb, gooseberries, basil, lettuce, cucumbers. Last summer I had a killer bumper crop of cucumbers and lots of tomatoes.
How often do you go grocery shopping?
Fairly often, actually. If I go to the health club to exercise or to Prospect Park to walk around I can stop at Key Food on the way home and pick up a few things so I tend not to do a big shop.
What percentage of your meals do you prepare at home?
How much do you spend on groceries each week?
I have no idea. I’m going to say $55 or $60.
Is there anything in here that we would have found in your childhood fridge?
Besides the fudge and the penuche? Standard stuff like mustard and ketchup. But I have soy sauce and things that were never in my mother’s refrigerator. Different veggies, too, like mushrooms.
What do you wish you had in here?
A little Thai person who could pop out and cook Thai meals for me.
Jim is retired from a career writing propaganda for Wall Street. He lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and he’s holding a bag of flour made from cherries, a Russian product gifted from the owners of his cat sitting charge. He lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn.