I went to the supermarket today. This is something I try to do no oftener than once a month, there being so many better ways to spend one's time. Back in the kitchen, I spent twelve minutes of my allotted time on this earth transferring things like pasta and flour and beans from their cellophane or cardboard wrappers into my collection of old glass jars.
I have a big screw-top jar for whole wheat flour, and another one for white. I have a blue glass canning jar for lentils, a clear one for millet (what earthly use is millet?). And one for oatmeal, one for barley, one for corn meal, one for brown rice. I have a tall skinny one for cappellini, and squat one for rotelli. Then there are the jars full of herbs and things that I dried last summer and never got around to doing anything with: apple mint, lemon balm, orange peel, lavender buds, camomile flowers.
Glass jars line my none-too-extensive counters. They fill the sunken space of the dry sink and the narrow shelf above it. They collect greasy kitchen dust and take up valuable space.
But how I love my glass jars--blue, green, brown, even the clear glass ones, with their rusty wires securing the glass lids, or their dull zinc screw tops. I love the look of lentils through blue glass, of rosemary leaves through brown glass, of pasta curlicues sculptural inside an almost invisible container.
Mostly, I love the illusion that the glass jars give, of a woman who shops not in a supermarket where things are sold pre-measured in cellophane or plastic, but in outdoor stalls where smiling merchants pour grains and meal and pasta noisily into a paper bag or a newspaper cone.
My glass jars are equivalent to those restaurant-quality kitchens you see in McMansions, whose owners are too frantic working to pay the mortgage to ever have the time to simmer a stew, let alone make an entire dinner from scratch. My glass jars and their five-burner stoves and industrial fridges are there to support the fantasy that, while we are out pursuing our 21st century lives, a loving someone is in the kitchen making broth, sauteeing onions, carefully browning the roux and thinking of us, waiting for us to come home.