Here’s a conundrum: If you’re making a great quantity of, say, tamale pie so you can freeze some for your elderly parents to defrost and dine on after you’ve departed, how do you gauge its freshness if one of the ingredients is way past its sell-by date?
Most of the ingredients are canned, like tomatoes, or staples, like cornmeal (though I’m pretty sure the 10-year-old stuff I’m using has lost any nutritional value even if it’s not actually dangerous). But the recipe requires ground meat. So my dad and I plunged into the deep freeze and surfaced with a package that had a 2010 sell-by date. “That’s the sell-by date, not the use-by date” my dad said, overriding my objections. O.K., but then what’s the use-by date for the completed dish?
That deep freeze is really a cryo-crypt. I’m pretty sure there are chunks of animals in there that date back to the last ice age. And there’s probably a portion or two of a previous tamale pie from the ‘50s.