How many people does your fridge need to feed?
Gretchen: That’s a really hard question. There’s four of us here, but it’s not unusual for there to be eight.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Truman: Espresso with sugar and steamed half-and-half. And then for brunch I have the same again.
Sarah: Something leftover and sweet, like a cinnamon roll, a piece of pie, or bread. Sometimes I’ll have cereal, usually with something sweet on it, like fruit.
Sonam: Noodles, sometimes. Sometimes leftovers. But I usually don’t eat breakfast.
Is there anything you eat every day?
Sonam: I drink coffee almost every day and I eat noodles almost every day.
Gretchen: Coffee, definitely. Vegetables.
Sarah: Coffee, and bread or rice.
Truman: Coffee is the only thing I have consistently every day.
Truman: Toast, ice cream, eggs, cheese, sour cream, butter, salsa, avocado. We’ll go through batches of having baked potatoes and they’ll get recycled for breakfast—well, crack-of-noon breakfast.
Sarah: Some sort of greens or veggies—we have salad every week and vegetables, lots of cooked vegetables; rice; milk products; fruit.
Gretchen: She doesn’t drink tea, but I also have tea a lot of times. We eat from the garden at least three times a week.
Sonam: Noodles, vegetables, beef, milk, and orange juice.
What item are you forbidden from purchasing right now?
Sonam: I like to eat organic food—it tastes good and many people say it’s good for your health, but it’s a little expensive for me. I also don’t buy seafood, like shrimp, very often, because of my religion: we believe that killing other living beings is a very big sin, so I try to eat a bigger animal, so that at least many people can share that one soul.
Truman: I’m temporarily banning Tillamook Udderly Chocolate ice cream, my current favorite, which supplanted the previous Drumstick ice cream. I passed that taste on to Sarah and now she’s the Drumstick ice cream addict.
Sarah: I try to avoid super processed stuff, except for ice cream. And we forbid ourselves from buying anything we can grow in the garden, but that’s not really forbidding, that’s a celebration.
Gretchen: Potato chips. They’re expensive and they’re not good for me so I don’t get them; it’s been so long it doesn’t even occur to me anymore.
What’s the most delicious thing in here?
Truman: I’m sure there’s a leftover baked potato in there, and there’s Yumm! Sauce from Café Yumm! and Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar cheese.
Sarah: Probably the marijuana in the freezer.
Gretchen: The frozen fruit. We have blueberries, and peaches, and strawberries.
Sonam: The beef.
The most disgusting?
Gretchen: The Sichuan peppercorns. Sarah made a couple of meals where she put so many in that I couldn’t taste anything else for a day. My whole self was Sichuan peppercorn. I’m not over it yet.
Truman: The homemade kimchi. I’ve been afraid to try it my whole life. It’s the repository of all my food phobias. It’s got a tight lid, though, so I’m not worried.
Sonam: When you open it, it smells disgusting, but then when you taste it, it’s so, so delicious.
Sarah: The diet pink grapefruit Sodastream flavoring is disgusting, and we don’t have a Sodastream.
Sarah: Probably that undated fish in the plastic bag way in the back of the freezer.
Gretchen: There are some elk dog treats in the freezer that I’m not sure I want to defrost anywhere but in the garden.
Anything you regret buying?
Truman: There’s some Feta in there that’s gone bad because I bought three bricks of it when it was on sale.
Sarah: I got some black bean sauce with red chilies, but it’s not as useful as I thought; I should have gotten the version without the black beans. Mostly the things I regret are the things that were given to us for Christmas, like the summer sausage that came in the package from the aunt that we love dearly and won’t name.
What's your guilty pleasure?
Gretchen: Ice cream.
Truman: Ice cream: unless I’m back on the wagon with yoga, it’s too many calories.
Sarah: All forms of butterfat.
Where do you do most of your food shopping?
Sarah: Our garden, Albertsons—which is the closest clean and nice chain market—and the New Frontier Market, which we refer to as the New Front Tire. It’s our local, independent grocery store.
Sonam: Fred Meyer.
Truman: Mostly Albertsons, and Bruns’ Apple Market, which is a few blocks away. Eating out of the garden six or eight months of the year is pretty amazing. I’d never had kale before living here.
How much do you spend on groceries each week?
Sarah: Way less than we used to: probably $80 a week. It depends on whether we’re shopping for an event or not.
Truman: About $50.
Sonam: As little as possible. Maybe $60 or $70.
How often do you go grocery shopping?
Gretchen: Probably about once a week these days. We used to have a list and shop every weekend, but now we sort of pick things up as needed.
Truman: At least once a week. I sometimes make a trip just to buy half-and-half: I buy three or four quarts at a time about twice a week.
Sonam: Maybe three times a week?
Is there anything in here that we would have found in your childhood fridge?
Gretchen: Lots of containers with small bits of leftover things. Although my parents always had even more containers—like half an open can of pork and beans. We didn’t have onions—my dad can’t tolerate them, and my mother just got used to it. They never have onions or garlic or anything with flavor.
Sarah: There would have been more meat in mom’s refrigerator and far fewer bottles of funny sauces. We had fewer foods. We had minute rice, not real rice.
Sonam: I didn’t have a fridge or freezer—we lived in the mountains in Tibet.
Truman: My childhood fridge was similar to Sarah’s—more meat. The milk came in bottles with paper caps. And there were no plastic bags, so vegetables were just loose in the bin. And leftovers were stored in the casserole they were baked in with aluminum foil on top.
What do you wish you had in here?
Sarah: Drumstick ice cream. But really I’m just as happy it’s not there, because if it were, I’d eat it.
Sonam: Ground beef, and some greens so I could make salad.
Sarah is a retired family practice doctor and a gardener. She’s holding leftover roasted vegetables and her stash. Gretchen is a recovering attorney, and she’s holding a bowl of ocas, a type of South American tuber she grew in her garden. Truman is a retired printer and he’s holding a block of extra-sharp Tillamook cheddar. Sonam is a yoga teacher and a massage therapist. While he waits to get his American massage license he works as a delivery person for a store. He’s holding a jar of kimchi. All four live with Penny, an Australian shepherd, in Eugene, Oregon.