The Papa Files by Vincent Cardegin
I haven’t bought paper plates and bowls in a long time, but I have sneaked in some plastic flatware. Of course, it’s no longer a secret after I dump the forks, spoons, and knives in the drawer of the microwave stand, into three sectional containers, but my wife hasn’t complained, so I’m good. It will be the natural course of things that I’ll start using metal again when I run out of those polystyrene utensils, and do so for many weeks and perhaps months before I find myself down that aisle and once more spot them on the shelves. We’ve gone long stretches without disposables because my wife wants to save money, and so I’ve grown re-accustomed to stainless steel.
I remember an episode of Bones in which someone was killed in a prison with a shiv made of paper from a cookbook. That got me wondering, even back then, if paper could therefore be compressed hard enough to use for spooning soup, cutting meat, and stabbing veggies. Wouldn’t that be great? No washing, no adding to the landfill, just rinse them off (or maybe not?) and drop them into a recycle tub just for that. They could be re-softened, boiled to sterilize, and turned into anything, from toilet to printer paper. But mainly molded back into table tools, kind of like they did in Walter Cronkite’s show The Twenty-First Century. I’m pretty sure we have the technology.
Forks don’t have to have four tines, you know. I believe that’s just some weird tradition; two will do. And knives don’t have to be serrated; steak cuts fine with a smooth edge. And paper spoons will no doubt work best with chilled soups and cereal; nothing piping hot…but maybe they can. Spoons for stirring coffee and ladles for serving crockpot dishes would have to be denser, of course.
And I again complain and insist that I want disposable/recyclable paper clothes, at least innerwear if not outerwear (or should that be underwear and overwear?) Whatever, I don’t want to do laundry.
Mostly I miss having large paper plates. I could load one with leftovers and cover it with another for the next night’s meal. If I knew I wouldn’t eat it until days later, I’d tie them together with plastic wrap. But for a long time now I’ve been using deep-dish Corelle plates. If the food is low enough I cover it with one of my wife’s ridiculous collections of Johnson Brothers (Hanley) Ltd Stoke-on-Trent England Coaching Scenes Ironstone plates and seal it with Glad.
If what I make is higher, like my concoction of precooked chicken strips on a bed of rice topped with garden onions, garden bell and banana peppers, and smothered with cream of chicken or mushroom or broccoli or asparagus or celery soup, I cover it with another deep plate. The thing looks to me a lot like the Jupiter Two, from the original show—or, yes, like the Jupiter One from the movie. I love opening the garage refrigerator and seeing such leftovers looking like that, though I’m sure my culinary preference is not real space food. But it could be. Freeze-dry it, add little packets of space seasonings for individual astronaut tastes—my favorite is curry—and there you go: Jupiter Two Meals for the ISS and beyond. It’s pretty good guys.