If a recipe calls for 1 tsp of oyster sauce and the smallest bottle of oyster sauce available is a 4 oz bottle, then one purchases a 4 oz bottle. When making a key lime pie one needs 6 oz of key lime juice, however a bottle of key lime juice is 16 oz. See where I am going here.
Fast forward; yesterday there was a small hiccup with the refrigerator that turned into something a little more serious - like the full blown flu. Long story short, the internal temperature that should be in the high 30's was in the 50's. So everything needed to be moved into a cooler. Luckily the freezer was still working properly. As I started taking everything out of the fridge I could only imagine what someone who didn't know me would say.
"Why do you have all this stuff? Fish sauce? Balsamic glaze? Currents? 3 types of mustard? This is a good time to clean all this out."
I will defend my significant investment in condiments. When you need that obscure ingredient in the middle of the night while making a critical recipe for the following morning, you do not have time to run to the store. And if you don't happen to live in a decent size town, chances are you are not going to be able to find it any way when the staples are fat back, white bread, and chicken necks. Chances may be difficult to find any condiments more exotic than ketchup, mayonnaise, garlic salt, or some BBQ sauce endorsed by a NASCAR driver no doubt.
Several weeks prior I had gone through everything in the refrigerator, checked the dates, and discarded anything that was out of date. Now I'm not saying there were not some mystery items in there and some dishes that resembled science projects gone astray.
As I relocated the food, I thought of my Mother. Mama had a reputation for her notorious kitchen in her early days when she was predisposed for a little nip here and there. In fact there is little doubt in my mind that my immune system was greatly enhanced by the antibiotics that were sometimes produced in our kitchen while I was growing up.
This is one more reason your best friend is the one when you die, you can count on to get to your house and clean out your refrigerator before the church ladies show up with food. Knowing you have that most important task taken care of will allow a lady to rest in peace. A husband could never discern between the perished pears and pickled ginger, the old cannoli and the can of oriental mustard, an expired jug of juice and an expensive jar of blackberry jam, or an old bottle of mustard and perfectly fine mason jar of hot sauce.
There is a reason I can put together strange recipes on the fly - and it is not because I have bare refrigerator shelves. Show me a lady with a refrigerator free of condiments and I'll show you a lady who can only make reservations for supper.