My grandmother was born in 1888. She lived a long life and I was a later life surprise for my father. So, let’s be clear that I am not as old as that makes me sound (just feels like it some days).
We lived with Gramma. She was a simple woman, the matriarch of quite an extended family. She spent much of her days tending her gardens. I say “gardens” plural because I can remember at least three that she had in various spots on our 5.5 acre homestead. Some days, she would disappear for hours and show up again just before dinner with her straw hat full of twigs and an apron full of vegetables.
She would clean the veggies and put them in the “icebox.” For the longest time, I thought she was referring to the freezer compartment when she used that term. Turned out, “icebox” was a holdover from a previous era of home refrigeration.
The icebox was a piece of home furniture that was pretty much what it sounded like. The ice man brought a block of ice to your home and it went into a compartment high in the box and as it melted it cooled your food. Fancy models had ways to collect the resulting water and drain it. For the rest, you just put a tray under the unit and Lassie lapped up the water as it collected.
They were attractive pieces of furniture as these pictures from Wikimedia and historian Mike Manning of Magi Media show. Decidedly low tech by today’s standards, but they could conceivably fit in any room of the house.
In a back to the future move, a UK company named Robey’s has recovered the attractive aesthetics of that bygone era and solved that low-tech problem. For more than $40,000, you can buy a refrigerator that could live in any room of the house. It can be configured with a coffee maker, a few different kinds of ovens, room for an internal pantry or even a TV.
Fittingly, it is called Meneghini La Cambusa. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds more like an Italian sports car than a box that holds beer and burgers for the big game.
It’s essentially a house contained in a refrigerator. It’ll do everything except tend the garden. Of course, you probably have someone else to do that if you’re plunking down $40,000 on a fridge.