DULUTH — I'd say it's time we start eating our panic-bought pandemic food. What do you have?
I have a 6-pound can of Crisco. Problem is, I never use Crisco. My husband buys it in sticks to make his mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe. But that's it. I cook with butter or canola oil, so this huge can has been unopened since March.
At the time, the 25,000 shelf-stable Crisco calories seemed like a prudent purchase. I bought it back when stores ran out of eggs and flour and sugar. COVID-19 had hit the state, and people seemed to be preparing for a bake-off apocalypse. We walked around in the stores, carts full, avoiding eye contact.
I gave a few neighbors eggs from my chicken coop. One of them sent back some venison sausage. My son said he was discovering new shapes of pasta. The spaghetti was going fast, but chances were better to find wagon wheels or orzo.
Things remained neighborly but were getting weird and scary.
My family is almost — almost, that is — done using the Sam's Club box of toilet paper, also purchased in March. There's nothing wrong with the rolls, but it's not exactly nice toilet paper. You'd expect to find it in a campground outhouse, maybe. When regular toilet paper started showing up in stores again, we bought our usual kind, and the cheap stuff just sat. I'm encouraging its use now, though, and since I'm the only one who ever puts a new roll out, I control that universe.
Back to the kitchen, though, I'm taking a closer look at the food. I have a huge bag of dried cranberries, plus bags of dried apples, dried peas and cashews. There's a big box of Bisquick, which I bought in place of the sold-out flour. As with the Crisco, it's not something I usually use.
One idea would be Bisquick-Crisco-cranberry-cashew pemmican. If you're not familiar, that's the food credited to Native Americans, usually made of meat and fat and berries. The original energy bar.
With grocery store shelves full again, things seem a little more back to normal. Most of us are accustomed enough to the masks that we'll look at each other, maybe even talk.
Unfortunately, as far as the pandemic goes, Minnesota is way worse off now than it was in March. I'm not as afraid as I was back then, but I should be; the risk of getting sick is so much greater now. News outlets have reported about "caution fatigue," the phenomenon that happens when people acclimate to a danger so much that they no longer follow safety precautions. They get tired of being careful. I'm sure that has affected me, too.
I was so naïve to think we'd all stay home for two weeks in March, then reopen schools and get back to work. Even when health care workers are pleading to follow medical advice, Americans don't like being told what to do. Even when we see video of bodies being stored in semitrailers because the morgues are full. Even as we go about the store, snatching up extra food "just in case."
That Crisco is stamped with a "best if used by" date of Oct. 30, 2021. As I decide whether to cook it or keep it, I ask that we all try our best to lock down a little harder and stop spreading this disease.
Beverly Godfrey is features editor of the News Tribune. She's not joking to ask "What do you have?" Send an email and share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.