Hump Day: When dinosaurs roamed the earth: ‘best before’ salad days

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

This week, I grabbed a bottle of salad dressing out of my pantry. I wanted to make a salad and thought my old stand-by dressing would do just fine.

Did I say ‘old’? Remember that adjective I used. ‘Old.’ Anyway, as I’m about to drizzle some of its oil-and-vinegary goodness on my salad, I decided to take a quick gander at the bestbefore date on the label.

I thought I’d had this bottle for awhile and wanted to make sure it was still good.

Now, I want to emphasize that I certainly don’t swear by best-before dates.

While there are some that are pretty much guaranteed to be accurate (milk, chicken, fish), others are way off, if you ask me.

Yes, salad dressing is one. And eggs, too.

I’ve had eggs weeks past their best-before date on the carton and they’re still perfectly good.

In fact, I’ve never had a storebought egg go bad on me.

Remember, this is January 2012.

So, I look at the label near the salad dressing bottle’s spout to check the best-before date. ‘April 25, 2008.’ I couldn’t help but laugh.

Obviously, I wasn’t that crazy about this particular kind of dressing because it had sat in my pantry for nearly five years, if you consider it was bought at some point in 2007.

April 2008 – George W. Bush was still President of the United States.

Michael Phelps hadn’t yet set medal records at the Beijing Olympics, which were still months away.

Lady Gaga who? Glee what?

Apple iPad? What the heck is that?

But my trusty bottle of salad dressing was around . . . yup . . . just waiting for me to finish it off.

Apparently, it would wait a long time.

I can just imagine the lonely nearly five years it spent in my house just waiting to fulfil its life mission – to be poured over lettuce.

It managed to do so a few times, but it was still two-thirds full by the time I put it out of its misery by pouring it down the sink.

The screams were horrible. Yup, pretty sure it screamed.

Hmmm . . . maybe I shouldn’t have taken that sip of it to see if it was bad before throwing it out.

The pretty colours and voices I heard in my head afterwards all made it worth it, though!

Not to mention the pink elephants and little green men who visited my house, too.

Yeah, I think I should have definitely thrown that bottle out a few years ago.

It expired in April 2008, which means I likely bought it about nine months before that.

Sheesh! It was like having pet that I had to put to sleep after five years.

‘Fluffy! I loved you so much! You went great with arugula and cherry tomatoes!’ In all seriousness, I was quasihorrified by my complete lack of care in this matter. I mean, it’s not unheard of to find expired stuff in your refrigerator or your pantry.

It happens to everyone. If it just expired recently, you do a smell test . . . maybe a small taste test . . . and if you don’t faint or start seeing dead people, it’s likely good to go.

But having something in your pantry that expired four years ago? Wow, that takes some serious negligence. I hope Martha Stewart never hears about this. She won’t just be a little upset, she’ll probably stab me.

And I won’t even tell you about the bottle of tea tree oil that I had in the house that expired in 2005.

Yeah, I just threw that out last week. I unscrewed the cap and I’m pretty sure I heard it gasp, ‘Please .. . just kill me. I’m so tired.’ Yikes! I just held its little head under water until the bubbles stopped.

To bottles of salad dressing, I’m Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I end up pouring out nearly every one of them. They come home with me to die. I’d like to tell you that it’s the first time I’ve thrown out a bottle of long-expired salad dressing, but I have to be honest and admit that I’ve thrown out bottles in the past so old that the writing on the label was in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

I don’t know why I do it. I’m always trying to find ‘the’ salad dressing. The one that will take me to Nirvana. The one that will cause me to stop and shudder uncontrollably in the supermarket with a lust so powerful that the nastiest pitbull in the world wouldn’t dare hump my leg because it may get more than it bargained for.

But I never find that ‘heavenly’ dressing. I always buy Italian.

French. Oil and vinegar. And there’s a blue cheese and bacon dressing that I like – but as a topping for hamburgers, not for salad. And then there are all those sweet raspberry dressings. I mean, you might as well just pour corn syrup over your salad and top it off with a cup of molasses and then sprinkle it with brown sugar. Ugh.

Overly sweet dressings turn me off.

Maybe I should just enjoy salads plain. But then again, I’m the guy who brings heads of lettuce home to die, too. So who am I kidding?

I’ve thrown out more brown and disintegrating heads of lettuce than you can shake a stick at. (How many would that be, exactly?) Even when I buy bagged lettuce or mixtures of other greens, a week later I find it in the back of the refrigerator looking like chicken gravy – brown, soupy and chunky.

If anyone from the World Lettuce Growers Association wants to report me to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against salad greens, be my guest. Just remember – you’ll have to wait your turn in line behind the North American Salad Dressing Federation.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.