The end-of-season scramble to scrub everything down and get out of resort without losing tempers, dignity or accommodation deposit resulted as usual in piles of discarded food and occasionally drink. Although my share of this year’s alcohol booty consisted of half a bottle of rum so rank I’m not sure I’d use it as lighter fuel let alone drink it, which was a tad disappointing, particularly when previous seasons have been known to yield enough red wine to keep an entire household sozzled for six weeks. Some of it has even been drinkable.
Diehard seasonnaires who insist on persevering with with the somewhat minimal alpine summer rather than doing the decent thing and getting a soul-destroying temp job while crashing in the parental coal bunker can generally score for half a summer season’s worth of provisions at the end of April, a vital boost at a time of year when jobs are scarce and wages less than minimal.
Canny summer bums will put a bit of effort into getting to know staff in chalets run by small TOs, whose habit appears to be to write off perfectly good dry goods stock at the end of the winter rather than stashing it somewhere for later. Let’s face it, tinned tuna and three cases of Cornflakes are hardly going to off before next December, are they? But feel free to bin it if you insist. Just one small request – couldn’t you go into Rice Krispies next year? Not such a huge fan of Cornflakes really. Thanks in advance.
It also pays to chat up the most incompetent and/or careless chalet hosts you can find, especially if they work for a company which does its ordering from proper suppliers rather than wasting perfectly good ski time by dragging everyone down the hill to Lidl evey week. These people will have an Aladdin’s cave style haul of God knows what tucked away in various corners of their chalet. Go for dazed-looking 18-year-olds who haven’t twigged that if a product comes in boxes of six they don’t need six boxes of it. This does have the downside that you risk living on biscottes and strawberry jam all summer, but free food is free food.
Having more or less escaped from nano-wages and interseason homelessness (touch wood) I have become a tad more picky in my end of season scavenging, though when people come round and dump three carrier bags of produce on my doorstep I’m not about to turn them away. I do perform a fairly ruthless triage on the bounty these days, mostly because it saves having to rootle through cupboards full of junk every time I want dinner, before throwing most of it away anyway when it all goes out of date two years down the line.
First to go this time round was any jam jar containing less than two slices of toast’s worth of jam. Seriously, how did this get as far as me in the first place? Next for the bin were any and all sorts of prepped pseudofoods (Super U allegedly ‘Mexican’ salsa anyone? No, me neither. Besides, I couldn’t get the lid off it.), though I did keep the Cup-a-Soups, a decision I am regretting, having eaten one of them for lunch yesterday.
Multiple half-bags of pasta are always a bonus, but I have to say I was unimpressed with the mushroom flavoured stuff, authentically Italian though it may well have been. Suffice to say that black pasta which smells vaguely of mould is not the most tempting of repasts. Bucketloads of flour comes in handy as well, though I did offload some of it onto passing parents since there’s a limit to just how much cake I can eat. More problematic is the glut of polenta – I have to admit to having not the first clue what to do with polenta, and nor does anyone else of my acquaintance judging by their reaction to being offered the surplus. But I’m reluctant to bin entire unopened packets of real food (as opposed to Super U’s faux Mexican salsa, which is blatantly made of petrol and dead dogs), so clearly I will have to find out.
So if anyone out there has any tempting recipes involving two kilos of polenta, half a jar of possibly fermented apricot jam and three leek and potato Cup-a-Soups, feel free to post them in the comments section. Honestly, where’s Ainsley Harriott when you need him?