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I Found Pork Brains in Milk Gravy in my Fridge

For the past 20 years, my job has been to develop recipes for magazines, newspapers, blogs, television, a host of restaurant chains and cookbooks. I do this from my modest home kitchen.

Working from home is great, because I am also mama to four children. While my workload can be intense at times, it is usually flexible. Last week, I was up at 6 a.m. developing a recipe for Clams Casino so that I could volunteer in my 9-year-old’s class by 8 o'clock.

But our fridge is a bizarre mix of odd, scary ingredients and ordinary, family foods. My children never know what they will find when they open the refrigerator door in their search for a benign cup of yogurt or an innocent bologna sandwich.

Ingredients have included:

  • Whole duck, (feathers off, head and webbed feet on).
  • Whole octopus (dead, but unmanageably rolling and squiring about in the brown paper wrapping).
  • Limburger cheese (the stench of which could be detected from outside of the fridge).
  • Silkworm pupa (um, little, boiled worms).
  • Pork brains in milk gravy (no explanation needed).

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Two days ago, my daughters and I detected an obnoxious odor in the fridge that grew stronger with alarming speed over the course of one night. Yesterday, I gave the refrigerator a seriously deep cleaning (more like a culinary exorcism).

The discovered inventory, surprised even me:

  • Four bottles Maraschino cherries. (Our family doesn’t eat ice cream. Where did these come from and why so many?)
  • Seven different cheeses (including one blue, except that it started out as cheddar).
  • One dozen free-range duck eggs.
  • Four pickle jars (one void of pickles entirely, only the brine remaining).
  • Two pounds of French butter.
  • Three bottles of Prosecco. (How did I miss these?)
  • An entire ham!
  • Eleven bottles of salad dressings. (Considering I make my own dressing, I have no idea how these collected.)
  • Twelve individually wrapped samosas
  • One box Karasumi (Japanese dried mullet roe)
  • Three jars Piri Piri sauce
  • Three open — and half-consumed — juice boxes (one spilled, on its side, stuck to the shelf).
  • A half-eaten cup of chocolate pudding.
  • Fourteen Korean and Japanese sauces, condiments or pastes (including dried shrimp powder).

No ketchup. None. (WTF?)

  • One extra large jar mayonnaise (only 2 tablespoons left).
  • Four bottles capers (all mostly empty).
  • Three jars horseradish (all completely full).
  • Coffee syrup. (Speaking of syrup, three bottles of maple syrup.)
  • One opened tin of anchovies (unsuccessfully wrapped in plastic wrap).
  • A family of hedgehogs, living way in the back. (Just kidding.)

Turns out, the culprit was the dried mullet roe. Didn’t see that coming. The stench is now gone, replaced by the fragrance of bleach and a box of baking soda.

My children can rest assured that if they ever want an octopus panini and a cheese stick, they’ll probably find them in the fridge.

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Images by Jennifer Brule

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