March 3rd, 2005.

Best before.

Do men have stronger stomachs than women? It’s a question that came up in a recent conversation with friends. We noted among us that women seem to strictly adhere to the instructions on ‘best before’ dates, discarding anything that has gone even one day past that directed on the packet. While men, it would seem, are more open-minded about when exactly it is that something becomes inedible or undrinkable.

My cleaner emptied a wide selection of packets and jars from my cupboard while I was overseas. Products such as tomato sauce, breakfast cereal, Marmite, and Vegemite were all discarded based not on whether or not they were suitable for consumption or not, but purely upon the items ‘best before’ date.

Her dogmatic approach to cupboard cleaning emptied something like a third of the contents of my cupboards. Needless to say, I was fairly unimpressed, but she was insistent that the discarded items would have been bad for me.

I explained that on several occasions I have consumed stuff that was a little (and sometimes a lot) past their ‘best before’ date, and I am still here to tell the story. I also pointed out to her that a bottle of water that has lived in my fridge forever is WELL past its ‘best before’ date, but it’s never been opened and when I do open it I doubt I’ll be knocked back by it’s ‘off’ smell.

Only last week she threw out a container of milk (4 pints) that was nearly full. Then she called upstairs “Sie, you need more milk love,” I sat back in my chair and recalled only having recently buying milk, so I responded “There should be some in the fridge.” She shouted back “That was off love, so I’ve poured it away.”

I went downstairs and politely explained to her that I had just had a bowl of cereal and was at that very moment enjoying a cup of tea made with the very milk she had just seen fit to pour down the drain. Her response with a laugh was “You’d be alight with the nig nogs wouldn’t you!” Referring, in her own unique and ignorantly racist style, to my recent trip to India where it’s true to say food sanitation is not as high on the health radar as it is in more developed countries. With that comment, she returned to cleaning my kitchen leaving me standing there dumbstruck on many levels.

So is it true, do men have stronger stomachs than women? What man hasn’t at one point or another accidentally dropped something edible on the floor only to pick it up and continue eating it after blowing on it then giving it a quick visual inspection? You would never see a woman do this, or would you?

When making a coffee or cup of tea and finding that your milk isn’t quite as fresh as it perhaps should be, is it only a man who would think that more sugar in the drink will solve the problem?

Do women do this kind of thing behind closed doors? Or is this something that I am assuming other men do, when in fact, I am alone in my relaxed interpretation of ‘best before’ and the such? If so then I would like to point out to everyone that I am still here, free of decease and fighting fit, which may be down to luck, but I would argue was more down to judgment.

Now, anyone care for a coffee? The milk isn’t so good but it’ll be fine with an extra spoon of sugar, you’ll see.