And not good surprises. No fresh apple pies or shiny new appliances. That wouldn't be very Biagi. No, these surprises are more of the Steven King variety.
Including but not limited to: Freshly boiled(or boiling), skinned and bleached animal bones drying on the kitchen counter. Stiff, dead birds lining the windowsills. Dried out fish bodies on top of the microwave. Tarantulas. Maggots. Larva. Pet lobsters. Microscopes hovering over whatever insect caught dad's attention that day. Jars preserving animal parts or ones simply labeled "DO NOT DRINK". Liquid nitrogen tubs conserving fish sperm. You get the idea.
Whenever we kids visit home, the first time we walk into the kitchen we instinctually brace ourselves. After we meet the new pets(if we're lucky it will be a new fish, other times it will be one of the cozy creatures mentioned above), the real test of bravery comes in opening the fridge/freezer door.
Bearer of nightmares
Now, since my mother hates to keep food in the house, food-wise the fridge is a wasteland of condiments. Unfortunately, it's not just food that's kept in our fridge.
A Biagi fridge staple is the maggot filled ramekin. The theory is that dad will collect the larva(to feed to his fish) before they become flies and swarm the house. That's the theory. Only too often do we open the fridge and find a ramekin dish swarming with flies. A sight enough to kill even the biggest condiment appetite. At this point, we barely even register their existence and eat away.
Again, because of our mother's hatred for keeping fresh food in the house, mostly everything gets stuffed in the freezer. This means that if we want to eat anything beyond spoonfuls of mayo, we have to go freezer digging.
One time, as I prepared some pancakes, I asked my friend Baillie to get out the ice cream. Looking over my shoulder towards a strange noise, I saw her standing there, clutching a dripping, blood soaked bag. This bag, no doubt, contained some sort of roadkill my dad peeled off the street and stuffed in our freezer.
In fact, my dad so much loves to collect roadkill and stuff it in our freezer that we have several ice-cream tubs marked "Dead Stuff" laying around. Julian has been known to hide the roadkill on the streets near our house in bushes so my dad won't drag it home. And, if the roadkill is too large for our freezer, my dad will gift it to a friend because, hey, who doesn't like to arrive home and find a dead raccoon draped across their doorstep?
Our Kitchen of horrors is often the focus of many heated arguments between my parents.
One time I walked into the house to my father demanding to know why my mother "won't learn to be a supportive wife and help [him] build a damn freeze drier!". Her lack of excitement about his new way to harvest even more(!) animal carcasses clearly devastated him. Like that was part of her vows.
My brother just witnessed my mother being scolded for putting my father's worm collection on the deck, accidentally resulting in the worms' deaths. How could a decent person put worms, living creatures, out in the cold like that? As they probably had families and a mortgage.
With a Christmas visit scheduled, I can only imagine what new surprises await us in the Biagi kitchen. No doubt they'll odd, frightening, or just a basic health risk. I don't think it's a coincidence we all have amazing immune systems. But I guess that's just one of the many perks of being brought up Biagi.