Sunday, 3 February 2008

"Tupperware" February 3

Tupperware has always made me feel inadequate. It is the Scientology of kitchenware with it’s insistence on “burping” the lid, keeping matching sets in order with colour coding, stacking neatly in pantries and doing things with it which are just plain weird.
Does anyone really defrost meat in that plastic meat defroster, whip cream in that shaker thing, keep lettuces in that container with the spike which anal probes your lettuce and store half an onion in something which hangs from your fridge shelf?
I’ve only been to one Tupperware party in my life which scared me so thoroughly that the cream shaker I bought remained on my shelf for years unused and was regarded with deep suspicion every time I walked past it. I felt that if I succumbed and used it just once, I too would be hosting parties to sell bits of plastic which boss you around with Tom Cruise determination.
Women who have Tupperware also get quite shitty if you don’t give it back. Over the years they have given me baking or various left overs in Tupperware but never have they handed over the morsels without first saying: “I need the Tupperware back,” with a hard look I interpreted as meaning the Tupperware equivalent of L.J. Hubbard would impregnate them if they didn’t
Then the next time she’s at your house she rifles panic stricken through your cupboards looking for it while you attempt to stifle the vivid memory you have of throwing it in the bin, all the better to rid your house of it’s scary energy.
Recently, however, I’m seeing a new side to Tupperware. The cool vintage side. All those wonderful pastel colours which housewives in the early 60s bought en masse in the days when they also made frosted layer cakes and responded to advertising slogans which said: “calories, shmalories – as long as it’s fresh!” or “I can’t say I do, I don’t have my Tupperware.”
I’ve been seeing a lot of old Tupperware lately in Op Shops where they arrive in sad cardboard boxes each one still hanging onto their masking tape handwritten labels announcing that “cornflour” and “icing sugar” were once resident. I was immediately attracted to them because I knew they had come from a well ordered, old fashioned, good housewife type of kitchen, they have the nice old Tupperware logo on them and they are all in remarkably good nick because as we all know Tupperware lasts a lifetime.
Which is when I realised that the box of it I just bought for $5 probably came from a woman who recently died. All those Tupperware housewives who went to those parties in the 60s are now happily making angel cakes in heaven and Op Shops are overflowing with the stuff. Suddenly you can see the dusky pinks, sky blues and sea greens neatly stacked in her old cupboards housing baking ingredients which were regularly called upon to whip up a banana cake for the bowls tournament. You can see all the white lids happily burped sealing in the freshness and standing tall like good Tupperware living up to the slogan: “Stack neatly, save space!” I don’t mind using a dead housewife’s Tupperware because I see it as giving it a good home and out of respect I leave the masking tape labels with their former owner’s shaky old handwriting on them to preserve their former identity on my shelves. Which means I often find salt lurking in the one labelled cornflour but needs must.
So my kitchen is slowly filling up with the stuff which brings about a new problem. Where are you supposed to store it when not in use and how do you make sure you don’t lose the lids? Perhaps that’s what you learned if you hung out at Tupperware parties. I’ll never know.
What I do know is that slowly I’m becoming a born again Tupperware woman. I admired someone’s Pick a Deli container the other day which she was cleverly using to house tinned beetroot in its brine. No mess, can of beetroot lasts forever. I actually had the thought: “what a brilliant idea!” And when my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother sent some baking in a nice beige bit of Tupperware I made the effort not to lose the lid so that I could return it, such is my newfound respect.
I’m on the lookout for a beetroot storer and while I’m at it those ice-block makers, a cold cut keeper and one of those blue and red shape sorters for kids.

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