“See how the flies are teeming round me, like carrion crows!” cries a hapless citizen of Argos in Sartre’s The Flies, as well as me during peak stone-fruit season. Existential crisis may be above my pay grade, but fruit flies? Those I can handle.
A mesh food cover is a must at this time of year. (Sometimes, they’re called picnic covers; my mother-in-law has a hinged one that I covet very much.) But under that cover, for me at least, is this perforated bowl.
I initially ran across the vessel in question while doing some sort of search for “enamel.” I know it’s become all cottage-chic in recent years, but for me, the material always reminds me of the battered camping equipment I’d pick up pocket-money-cheap at childhood tag sales and carry along on my elaborate (often solo) picnics. I had a church-sale 1950s picnic basket that came with a bunch of built-in enamel implements, plus a thermos, and it was a very formative object. When, as a grown-up, I learned that enamel was also dishwasher-safe, nonreactive, and pretty cheap, I started using it whenever I could in my kitchen.
Anyway, this bowl caught my eye at once. I bought one, and when I realized how useful it was, I bought a second. The sellers call this a breadbasket, and it can certainly be used for this. But its genius is that you can wash your cherry tomatoes or snap peas or strawberries and serve them in the same container: colander and presentation in one.
It’s particularly terrific for storing ripe stone fruits and tomatoes: The circulating air underneath somehow keeps them from rotting as immediately, extending their lives. In the fridge, I often use these to hold eggs or citrus, and I’m convinced that the ventilation is deeply wholesome for the contents. (At the very least, it looks pretty.) It’s especially good for berries, as it’s shallow enough to allow you to store them in a single row, keeping them intact and minimizing contact with that sad, fuzzy one that always makes it into the punnet. So convinced am I of this thing’s merits, I’ve given it to friends (filled with fruit) as a summer hostess gift.
Besides, isn’t nihilistic malaise just a bit easier to bear with a ripe peach in your mouth?