The War Cupboard
“You’ll find the store of food for her and the Outdoorsies downstairs in the War Cupboard.” Also in the familiar War Cupboard are cases of Heinz Beans, lemon curd, mint sauce, “original pickle,” and custard powder. All things an English couple need when it’s nothing out there but pesto & bland tomato sauce, little fried fish, and mussels of dubious provenance. Our own pantry is also stocked with many necessities not available locally. It runs toward Thai curry paste, coconut milk, rice noodles, miso, fish sauce, and wasabi.
But back to the War Cupboard. In my mind, I must have been thinking war chest, the citizen soldier’s box of weapons and armor which he’d need should he be called up to to go to war. Offensively. Read that as you like.
These friends are English, too young to remember The War. But certainly their parents did, and their communities, their culture. As one who comes from a nation who hasn’t seen war on her shores in many generations, I wonder if I have the War Cupboard all wrong. It’s a very different thing for a family to squirrel away rations against the day when War cuts the supply lines. Is the War Cupboard not preparation to wage war but rather to fight for life in the face of it?
I am both ashamed and thankful that my psyche has been formed to see War as something our soldiers go do, not a situation inflicted on us at home. Despite 20 years of battling in distant deserts, these generations of America have been so blessed with safety, security, and peace within our walls.
Now, when I take another carton of tinned cat food from the War Cupboard, I wonder about air raid sirens, ration cards, strafing, fear, and hunger. No, I don’t think it’s the same thing as a War Chest at all.