This article originally appeared on VICE Spain
Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man how to use a fridge and he'll leave a fish in it for weeks and weeks until it congeals and smells so bad he'll briefly consider burning down his entire flat.
Not wanting to waste is a virtue – British households senselessly chuck out about 4.4 million tons of food every year. But there's "not being wasteful", and then there's just being too lazy to rid yourself of the mound of vegetables left from last week's brief health kick, the dried-out limes bought for gin and tonics that never happened, and the overpriced takeaway you justified by telling yourself you'd have the leftovers for lunch at work.
To find out just how filthy humans can be, I spoke to five people about maggot-infested chicken, four-year-old tomatoes, foot cream and all the other shit they had nestled in their fridges.
Lidia, 28, A Slice of Cheese
VICE: So, Lidia, how long has this piece of cheese been in your fridge?
Lidia: I think we bought it sometime in February of 2017. I have no idea whether it’s still edible, and, unsurprisingly, neither me nor my boyfriend is willing to take the hit and taste it.
Why don't you just throw it away?
To be honest, we should have just eaten the cheese when we first bought it, but the slice sort of slipped out of its packaging really early on and then stuck to the side of the fridge. We’re both too lazy to get rid of it.
How much longer do you think it will be stuck there?
Well, I’m a bit embarrassed now that everyone knows what slobs my boyfriend and I are, so I’m going to throw it away now.
Lara, 30, A Jar of Sun-Dried Tomatoes
VICE: How long have these sun-dried tomatoes been rotting in your fridge?
Lara: I bought the jar four years ago, and I don't think I ever ate more than three of them. Why did you initially buy them?
At the time, I had planned on hosting this big dinner party for loads of my friends, and I thought sun-dried tomatoes were exactly the sort of nice thing you’re meant to have for big dinner parties. But it never happened, and so I just left them there. Do you think they’re still edible?
I don’t know, and I really don’t think trying them would be a very good idea. The oil congealed years ago and now a bunch of weird balls have started forming all over the jar. But seeing as it’s technically a preserve, it might be alright. Right? When will you finally throw the jar away?
Maybe now is the time. But the thing is, it really doesn't bother me. I don’t need the space it takes up for anything else, and I’ve actually gotten used to having it there.
Nora, 23, Chorizo
VICE: How long has this blackened piece of chorizo been in your fridge?
Nora: The chorizo turned up about five months ago, when my best friend and flatmate, Celia, brought it back after visiting her mum in Valencia. Celia easily gets attached to things, and this slab of chorizo is just another item on a very long list of stuff she can't bring herself to throw away.
Has it always been this dry and this black?
I swear it used to be bright red. It was really fresh chorizo when it first arrived – almost raw – so it needed to be left to dry age for a few months. But five months later, I still remind her almost daily to eat it, but she thinks the longer it hangs, the better it will eventually taste. Have you ever tried it?
No, and I've only ever seen Celia eat it once, when she packed it in some Tupperware with rice and took it to work. When she got back home, she said it was really good – the rice, that is. The chorizo was apparently "a little too strong". Do you think she will ever throw it away?
No, probably not. The worst thing is that after all this time, Celia is still adamant that she's going to use it to spice up bland meals in the future.
Jacobo, 41, Tube of Foot Cream
VICE: Hi Jacobo. Why do you have foot cream in your fridge?
Jacobo: My then-girlfriend – now wife – bought the cream in 2009, I think. She decided to put it in there to keep it "fresh", which is where it has stayed ever since.
Has it expired or can you still use it?
It looks pretty fresh from the outside, but if you pop open the lid you'll see that these solid brown globules have formed inside the tube. And the smell, which was always pretty intense, will instantly make your eyes water.
Have either of you ever tried throwing it away?
There have been a few perfect opportunities to get rid of it, but we just haven't ripped off the band-aid yet. Every time we try, we realise we've grown somewhat attached to it – and who knows, it might be bad luck to throw it out.
Antonio, 27, A Job Application
VICE: What is a job application doing in a fridge?
Antonio: The application was already in there when we borrowed the fridge from someone. We only really use it to keep beers cold in our rehearsal studio.
But why is it still there?
To be honest, none of the six people who use the fridge can be bothered to take it out. So there it will stay, until its owner comes to re-claim it.
Do you see any symbolism in the image of a job application left in a fridge?
I guess it represents putting off the moment you're meant to conform to an existence rife with responsibility and the basic routines of adult life.
This article originally appeared on VICE ES.