Writers’ Fridges: Jia Tolentino

In our series Writers’ Fridges, we bring you snapshots of the abyss that writers stare into most frequently: their refrigerators.

I just realized, having never before had an occasion to consider my thoughts on the matter, that I feel incredibly fond of the front of my fridge. Life should be more like the front of my fridge: entirely made up of postcards from your friends, pictures of babies, an upside-down magazine photo of a rocket launch from a seventies aviation magazine, old aura readings, photos of when you blacked out at a Pistons game watching Fat Joe (no longer fat) play at halftime, novelty magnets that remind you of everywhere you’ve been that you love. The best thing on this fridge is a magnetic sheet featuring four incredible photos of my friend Jackson—it was a Christmas present from Jackson’s partner, Kate. Mostly when I go to the fridge, though, the only thing that registers for me visually is a glimpse of my dog Luna’s fluffy puppy face. 

 

 

Inside, my fridge’s vibe is almost always “last night’s dinner plus snacks.” If I lived almost anywhere else, I’d probably be working less and cooking constantly, and my fridge would always be bursting with some Martha Stewart shit, pizza dough and herbs and iced green tea with honey, as it was in Texas and Michigan. But here it’s like, we got some eggs, we got that bodega Vermont cheddar, we got Simply Orange so I can choke down my vitamins in the morning, we got limes that have turned into moldy rocks since the party.

 

 

There’s always garlic, lemons, and half-and-half. I went like a decade drinking mostly black coffee, and then one morning I woke up and had no idea why it had literally never occurred to me to keep half-and-half in the house. There’s usually some struggle fruit (cherries and strawberries, right now) to keep me from exclusively eating various combinations of bread, prosciutto, avocado, eggs, cheese, and butter all day. Right now there are two comforting Tupperwares full of a genre of pasta that my partner, Andrew, and I have made at least monthly for the past nine years; this specific one is rigatoni, two bunches of kale, burst cherry tomatoes, Italian sausage, and parmesan. The beer is Andrew’s—if I’m drinking anything at home, which I almost never am unless people are over, it’s red wine. 

 

 

The fridge door is full of old milk bottles from Michigan—we lived a five-minute walk from an amazing, overpriced place called the Produce Station, where there were all these plants for sale outside and Andrew would always get milk in a glass bottle (he loves milk, it’s awful). We’ve kept them to use as water bottles. I love them—I go through four or five of them every day—but it freaks people out sometimes; I guess the repurposing of milk paraphernalia feels vaguely profane. In the little butter area, the ziplock bag full of soy sauce packets from the sushi place is really ballooning. What am I going to do with these packets?! Hopefully one day I’ll run out of actual soy sauce and use all of those packets at once. There are two types of Cholula (though I prefer Tapatío). And—an important warning for anyone who visits this apartment—the peanut butter in my fridge is gross. The only thing that happens with it is that we swipe it out with our fingers for Luna, so that she’ll take her seizure medication. I don’t mind having only doggie/finger peanut butter. I can’t stand to eat peanut butter. I’ve never liked it, and the only times in my life I have ever eaten it outside baked goods or sauces were days in college when I needed something to help me swallow the shrooms. 

 

Jia Tolentino is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of the essay collection Trick Mirror. 

Read more: theparisreview.org

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