Friday, March 18, 2016

Know Your Hash from a Hole in the Ground

If the big bomb hits tomorrow, or ISIS hackers succeed in taking down our power grid, I’ll still be fat and happy living off the three-day supply of leftover minestrone my wife made. There’s half a roast chicken in the fridge too.

If trouble lasts longer than three days, not so pretty.

Without electricity, I’ll have to use up what’s in my freezer before it spoils: three packages of edamame, some leftover hot dog buns and a bottle of J√§germeister. Actually, the J√§ger will keep indefinitely, but it tastes best cold so I’ll finish it off out of respect.

All those ingredients in my pantry seemed so important when I got them, but they're going to look a little precious now: the three colors of whole peppercorns, the quinoa I only used into once, fine and coarse sea salt, and six kinds of rice, including cannaroli, sushi rice and some dark long-grain rice in a fancy package about the size of a cigarette box. I have a bag of dried garbanzo beans, flax seeds, enough dried lavender blossoms to make lavender tea (or lavender martinis!) for a year, a pretty-much full bottle of fish oil pills (they seemed like a good idea at the time but it turns out they taste like fish oil) and two boxes of panko, because I bought one at the store and didn’t know I already had panko because that's how often I use panko.

Armageddon is hard.

I scrounged up two cans of tuna, a box of whole oats, some flour and sugar, and three tins of cinnamon. In a pinch I could make a week’s worth of cinnamon tuna cookies.

On the brighter side, I have a fine stash of booze and a dozen limes, so I’ll starve smiling.

Grocery stores will still have plenty of food, but when power goes out their doors slam shut. Stores are unable to sell anything without using their computers – God forbid anybody learn to count money or do inventory by hand. Store managers will stand by while the ice cream melts and the red meat turns brown. Knowing my neighborhood, looters will bust down the doors before the first day is over, scurrying home while ice cream drips through their fingers. The 300-pound security guy standing next to the day-old doughnuts ain’t gonna take up chase and get stabbed over no ice cream.

Survivalists recommend we stock up enough food for a minimum of seven days. Three months is better, a year is good. Actually, they don’t really want us to stock up. They want to take over the world while we stand begging at their cellar door for what they stocked up. It’s no coincidence that the people who stash food also stash guns.

Canned food? Most of it lasts only a year. There is a long list of people on Survivalist.com who claim you can eat food way past its expiration date, but you doesn’t have to browse their website very long to get a clear sense of the brain damage caused by eating expired food.

The solution, they say, is to rotate your canned items: eat the oldest stuff and replace it with new stuff. In other words, to maintain a year’s supply of canned food you have to eat  a day’s worth of canned food every day. After 365 days of year-old corned beef hash, I won't care much if the world ends.

Freeze-dried foods last pretty much forever. Just add water. But if you can afford a year’s supply of those precious little meal packets, you can afford a private plane to fly you to where the real food is.

My plan isn’t to stash food. My plan is to stash a list of the people who stash food. I’ll list them in order of culinary creativity. I don’t want to kill a guy over ten cases of pork and beans, but if he's a hunter with a freezer full of fresh meat, who's the prey now?

Is there any food you can store indefinitely? According to research: marshmallows, Twinkies and scotch.

That’ll do.

Or, instead of me having to stock a year’s worth of canned food and instead of me having to kill my neighbor to steal his pork and beans, how about all you politicians try harder to get along? A world of fresh food is worth the effort.