Muriel Spark

Day Two

People who come to stay here in this old Tuscan rectory are astonished that we have no deep freezer. There is no point in our having one. We get vegetables very often placed on the doorstep by one of our neighbors, Adolfo. He grows all his own vegetables and salad ingredients. Alba, his wife, has been sending me new-laid eggs since I had the wretched shingles. They will accept no reward; it is hard to thank them. The shops, five miles away, supply the rest of our needs, and are mainly stocked by peasants who bring their produce down from the hills in the early morning.

Freezers … not long ago I overheard the following conversation when I was staying in Essex:

Widow A: I have four partridges at the bottom of my freezer. What do I do with them?
Bachelor B: How long have you had them?
Widow A: About six years.
Bachelor B: Well, they might be a bit tough. You could try …

I forget what B. suggested A. could try, but my own answer would have been, “Throw them out, quick.” Later, when I was alone with my bachelor, I made my misgivings about long-term freezing known. “Oh,” he said, “Peter Scott ate some tinned beef left by his father (R.F. Scott) at the fatal Antarctic expedition of 1912. It was perfectly well-preserved at that temperature.” The English, mainly, will eat anything. At present they are trying to palm off mad-cow produce in Europe, but without much success. It is distressing, in England, to see so few herds of cattle in the pastures. Their fodder, now suspected to be wildly the wrong thing, is taken to their byres, where cows who should be grazing stand patiently waiting for their debatably constituted feed to be served.