Deborah Ross: 'My kitchen food cupboard is terrorising me.'

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, there are some things in life that you expect to fear, like flying and motorways and pit bull terriers and the prospect of white goods breaking down, which always means "getting a man in" who won't turn up, and then another man who won't turn up, and this second man may be the same as the first, but how will you ever know? These are sound fears, common fears, decent and upstanding fears, but lately I have developed a most unexpected fear: I am frightened of the food cupboard in my kitchen. Or, to put it another way: my kitchen food cupboard is terrorising me.

I can't pinpoint when it all began, but I started to notice that even though I knew I had something in this cupboard – black peppercorns, for example – I would buy another packet rather than search for them and when I'd finished, I'd open the cupboard door a crack, lob this other packet in, close the door, lean with my back against it, and exhale with relief. "Phew, that's one condiment dealt with for today," I would say. And when I needed peppercorns the next time? I would buy yet another pack and, I'm telling you, if I haven't spent £457 on black peppercorns in the past few days alone, I'd be very surprised.

Oh, this cupboard looks benign enough, but it is evil, and who knows what is living in it after all these years. If pressed, though, I'd say you'd find the following: tins of golden syrup with half-cocked lids; ancient pots of hundreds and thousands; a spilling bag of decade-old lentils; fancy exotic chutneys that seemed like a good idea at the time (wardrobe and quince, anyone?); umpteen bottles of food colouring (all green); 768 packs of black peppercorns, crazy spices (star anise, what's all that about?) and herbal teas with names like Mango Madness and Tropical Carnival which no one ever drank, because they all taste of old, dirty pond. See? See?

Terrifying. Of course, the solution is to have a big clear out but, although I made an appointment with myself to do just that, I'm afraid I didn't turn up. Great. Now I'll have to wait in for myself tomorrow, too.

Next week: those lone fish fingers embedded in the icy wall of the freezer. How scary are they?