Monday, October 28, 2013

The Iceman Cometh Not (Sorry, Mr O'Neill)

My old* high school friend Mary Lou runs a used book store back home in Pennsylvania, and she recently sent me a delightful book by Bill Bryson titled I'm a Stranger Here Myself - a collection of essays Mr Bryson wrote for British audiences detailing his adventures in rediscovering American life after 20 years of living in Britain. I spent much of yesterday reading that book in the chilly fall sunshine, and found it to be both hysterically funny and deadly accurate.

Especially the short bit about American refrigerators.

Agnes and I have a typically American refrigerator, by which I mean a huge, hulking, energy-drinking storage compartment for leftovers we'll save and forget about until they walk out under their own power. Actually, we have two Huge American Refrigerators ... the other is in the garage and holds the overflow from the one in the kitchen.

Why do we need such enormous refrigerators? When Agnes and I shared an apartment in Germany, we had a typical European refrigerator that was about the size of the fridge you'd buy for your child's college dorm room. It was perfectly adequate, and it reflected the difference in shopping philosophies between Germans and Americans: Americans go to Costco or Sam's Club three times a week with an 18-wheeler and buy enough stuff to feed an average third-world nation for a month. Germans go to the local market every other day and buy just enough for the next day or two.

What's up with that?

I think the German way is much better. For one thing, there's less waste ... Germans don't have to, in the words of Mr Bryson ...

"... box (the refrigerator) up every four or five years and send it off to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta with a note to help themselves to anything that looks scientifically promising..."

It's also probably cheaper - they shop more often, but spend less each time.

Of course, one major advantage of a Huge American Refrigerator is that it comes in a box suitable for being transformed into a medieval castle for the neighborhood children. A European refrigerator comes in a box suitable for mailing a few odds and ends to distant relatives. Huge American Refrigerators are also more suited for movies about serial killers, in which they are usually packed with ... well ... you know.

If you want to read more about Huge American Refrigerators, you can check out this interesting article - The Huge Chill: Why Are American Refrigerators So Big?. I'd write more, but I need to go out to my Huge American Refrigerator and move enough things out of the way to find something I can take with me for lunch.

Preferably something that's been there less than six months.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I use the term "old" in the most endearing and nonpejorative sense.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

There are advantages and disadvantages to the American and European ways of shopping. It's nice not to have to go to the store each day; but getting fresh bread daily is so neat!

Large grocery stores are impersonal and inconvenient, and often distant.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Everything here is large including our egos.

Bilbo said...

Peggy - fortunately, I have Agnes to help keep mine under control. She does a marvelous job.

Mike said...

I hate shopping. So if I can get a two or three months supply of something I'll go for it.

Grand Crapaud said...

I hate to shop also. That's why it'sgood to have extra food on hand.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

A refrigerator should be large enough to hold at least two six-packs of beer.