How many people does your fridge need to feed?
Michael: Two, mostly.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Michael: A big bowl of mixed grain flakes with a little granola and some kind of fruit: a chopped up apple, blueberries, raisins—something like that. And I have coffee, and often a boiled egg. This morning, though, we had some leftover fish so I had fishcakes and an egg, and just a small bowl of flakes.
Lucy: He usually has a whole vat of flakes. I have tea, and something with nut butter on it. Sometimes I’ll have a bit of cereal or an egg. I don’t have a huge breakfast.
Is there anything you eat every day?
Lucy: Water, a glass of wine at supper. But I’m very eclectic with what I eat.
Michael: I eat whatever she eats most of the time. We’re not vegetarians but in general we eat a low-meat, high-vegetable and fruit diet. I have a beer—or half a beer—a day. If I drink a whole beer I risk getting too sleepy. You can’t buy short beers anymore, that’s ancient history, so I have some good bottle corks.
Lucy: We usually have fish once a week; a lot of grains; beans.
Michael: And bread. I really like bread.
What item are you forbidden from purchasing right now?
Lucy: I try not to buy too many chips and crackers, and that kind of thing.
Michael: Other than nice rye crackers—those so-called “Scandinavian crackers”—with herring, of course. I can get into the Norwegian soul food. We usually have a block of gjestost in the freezer. It’s that Norwegian goat cheese—the one the Danes call “brown soap.”
Lucy: We try to stay away from really yummy creamy cheeses.
What’s the most delicious thing in here?
Lucy: There’s some Mayan chocolate ice cream from last summer that we try to parse out until they start making it again in the summer. It’s from the Chelsea Royal Diner. There’s also the raspberry syrup I made last summer. We have that on yogurt for dessert.
Michael: There’s some good herring in there—two different types at least. There’s also some orange marmalade; my former wife keeps us supplied with that.
The most disgusting?
Lucy: There’s a piece of pizza in the freezer that’s old. We’re waiting to eat it for lunch some day.
Lucy: Some spiced fig. It’ll last forever. It’s wonderful with pork.I bought it at the second-hand food store in town. I use the syrup sometimes—I’m always adding little bits of things to what I cook because our diet is pretty basic and that way I can spruce it up. There’s also some five-year-old Italian grape syrup that I use the same way.
Anything you regret buying?
Lucy: At the end of the summer people sometimes bring us stuff that we have to dump.
Michael: It’s the people who are here just for the summer for the music school in town.
Lucy: They unload things on us that we really don’t want to eat. But I’m pretty careful not to have things around that I don’t want to eat.
Michael: My thing is to acquire cans of herring, particularly matjes herring, and then be a little bit of a hoarder and not eat them up. I’ve had the experience of opening a can and discovering it had all turned to liquid.
Where do you do most of your food shopping?
Lucy: The Brattleboro Co-Op.
Michael: In the summer we grow things, and buy a lot from local small farmers and the farmer’s market.
Lucy: We have a freezer out in the garage. If you grow a lot of vegetables in the summer, you have to put them somewhere.
Michael: It was part of the rationale for getting a generator. We had the experience of a severe ice storm here a few years ago that knocked our power out for over a week and probably the thing that would have bothered us the the most would have been losing the frozen food, because a lot of it was stuff that we put in ourselves. Fortunately our neighbors up on the hilltop had a generator and they also had an empty refrigerator, so we shlepped all our stuff up there and saved it.
Lucy: And the meat that we do eat is usually something I’ve gotten locally.
How much do you spend on groceries each week?
Lucy: A lot. $150, maybe? It’s really the only thing we spend much money on besides insurance and that kind of thing.
How often do you go grocery shopping?
Lucy: I try to go once a week but there’s usually another stop in there. I get a senior discount on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I try to go those days.
What percentage of your meals do you prepare at home?
Michael: We really don’t go out very much.
Lucy: Probably 90%. I eat lunch in town sometimes but we probably have dinner out once every two or three weeks.
What do you wish you had in here?
Lucy: Some cream, for something I was thinking of making for supper.
Michael: I can’t think of anything: we have cheese, we have herring, we have beer.
Michael is retired from external employment but is busy with trying to clean up the cluttered back trails of life, getting back into music, and skiing, skating, and contra dancing. He’s holding a block of gjestost cheese and a jar of majtes herring. Lucy is in her “post-creative” stage and is holding a bunch of kale. They live in Marlboro, VT.