I hate bugs. All bugs…yes, even butterflies and lady bugs. When it comes to bugs, I do not discriminate.
Part of the hate I have stems from my innate fear of all things crawly. It’s genetic. No escaping it.
For example…I was having dinner once at an outdoor restaurant in Florida and a giant bug flew onto the table. I probably leapt about 30 feet into the air and screamed. (Divide that 30 feet by my propensity to exaggerate…but, I jumped nonetheless). The lovely waitress rushed over and realizing it was just a bug, looked at me, exasperated and said…’It’s just a palmetto bug’.
Yeah, uhm, I’m from New York…that, my dear waitress, is a cockroach. AND, I checked with the bug experts at Orkin who told me: ‘There is no difference between a cockroach and a palmetto bug. The cockroach is also known as the waterbug, Croton bug and palmetto bug.’
I also lived in a pretty big one bedroom in a rent stabilized building for a while in the 90’s. Finding a good sized, one bedroom in a rent stabilized, full service building, on the upper west side is pretty much the coup of coups. But, the low low rent came with its own price…a mouse or two here or there. Not good for the crawly-ophobe. And, I may have spent a night or two locked in my bedroom with towels shoved under the door to keep my ‘guest’ from coming in while I slept. (Note…have the super, friend etc, plug all gaps around your plumbing with steel wool. The mice can’t chew through it and will find another home to visit.)
Recently, a friend who had relocated from Los Angeles told me she spied a mouse running across her living room floor last week. Her attitude: ‘Thank God it wasn’t a cockroach.’ After only five months in our fair city, she’s already a true New Yorker through and through.
I know what you’re thinking, reader(s)…where is she going with this? And, is she really going to talk food after talking bugs and rodents?
No. No, I’m not.
I am going to take you through a list of perhaps insane precautions I take in my own tiny NYC kitchen to avoid the occasional creepy crawler. Because even in the swankiest of buildings, a bug or two will fall.
Tiny Kitchen Tips:
All bread products – bread, cereal, crackers – go in the microwave. The microwave is airtight…so, not only will it protect your breads safe the crawlers, it will also help to keep them fresh longer
- Once a package of anything is opened…its contents are put into a ZipLoc bag before being put back into the box. This means cereal, pasta, sugar, brown sugar, Bisquick, panko bread crumbs, rice…anything you are keeping in your pantry (read, kitchen cabinet assigned to food)
Flour is allowed on the counter…BUT only because I keep it in a glass, airtight canister sealed at all times.
- Coffee is also allowed on the counter…But, only because it too is in an airtight container sealed at all times.
- Chef’s salt and pepper are allowed on the counter…in these cute little Cuisinart prep bowls and covered with Saran Wrap at all times
- The only foods allowed out, uncovered on counters are:
Unripened avocados (no getting around this)
Tomatos – these do not go in the fridge
Listen, I live in a very nice, maybe even, swanky, building. But, you can’t know what happens outside of the building in which you live, or even in the hallway for that matter. You just can’t prevent the stray bug from crawling out of a delivery and then making its way to your apartment. Maybe it’s a roach on the bottom of a grocery bag, maybe it’s a wheat bug living in your cereal box. You can, however, ask your super to put a sweep at the bottom of your door to minimize the chances of that happening. I need to do that now that I think of it.
Every place has its invaders. When I lived in CT, there were these nasty, prehistoric, thousand-leggered things in the house….way worse than a stray cockroach, I think.
And, don’t even get me started on when I was lucky enough to visit my peeps in Cincy during the 17-year Cicada infestation…really apocalyptically disgusting.
Is my tiny NYC kitchen protection strategy a bit OTT? Maybe…Aaaaaand, I’ve never seen a bug or a crawly critter here. Never. So, having my very crowded and ZipLoc bagged and boxed pantry look like this…Is well,…well worth it.
If you have other tiny kitchen place invader protection tips, please tweet to me @anniesdishlist.