With their pristine kitchens and artfully messy family rooms, IKEA homes always make me feel inadequate. Somehow the simple storage solutions aren’t enough to help me keep my house in order, though I admit that’s my problem, not theirs.
Still, there doesn’t seem much hope that spending a small fortune on stackable storage units and designer drawers will improve matters, so when I picked up a copy of the catalogue, rather than thumbing through and compiling a wish-list, I stopped to ponder the cover, which in itself provides a host of images to question and wonder at.
Firstly, there’s the mystery on the top shelf: what on earth are those little newspaper cones?
Are they purely decorative? Are they an unfinished children’s school project – miniature Christmas trees, perhaps, waiting to be painted green? Are they paper cloches keeping seeds in the dark? (If so, wouldn’t they just collapse when watered?)
Then there are all those Kilner jars. Well, OK, they’re from IKEA, so they are Korken, not Kilner, but it’s much the same thing.
But what are they being used for? Those onions aren’t pearl onions, the tiny white ones I associate with pickling; they’re too big even to be shallots; so why have they been put in jars? They should surely be hanging in the shed with the air circulating to keep them dry and fresh over the winter.
Bottling lemons seems quite reasonable in comparison. Except I thought you bottled them in brine or vinegar or sugar syrup. It’s all very well having an air-tight seal on the jar, but unless the fruit or veg is submerged in some kind of liquid, I don’t think it’ll keep.
Then there are all those unlabelled bottles on the bottom shelves: is that jewel-bright liquid raspberry cordial or home-made wine? In this family-friendly environment – is it family-friendly with all those heavy glass jars within easy reach of little hands? – I suspect the former.
And don’t get me started on the carrots. There are two full shelves of carrots in jars as well as the great crate-full under the trolley on the left. My mother used to say that eating my carrots would make my hair curl; it seems to have been more successful for the little girl in the picture than it was for me.
They say fine words butter no parsnips, but, fine words or not, IKEA apparently bottle them. And turnips, too, judging from the pile on the table. (I assume the mother has just dashed out to get another hundred pounds worth or so of jars. I hope there’s an adult in the house to keep an eye on that child – after all, a trip to IKEA takes a minimum of half a day even if you only go for one thing.)
I do know about preserving soft fruits and vegetables, but it had never occurred to me that root vegetables should be bottled. IKEA seem to think they should be: carrots, turnips, parsnips… but no swedes. I wonder why.