So, there’s a problem with being a curious foodie in New York.
Let me rephrase that – there’s a problem with being a foodie curious enough to want to try out every food trend out in the world, living in New York where you are able to obtain everything for that trend whenever the whim strikes.
I don’t have a lot of storage space in the kitchen. There isn’t a lot of space in kitchens in New York as it is, even less so when you have a roommate and you really do kinda need to give them cupboard space of their own (yes, even if all they get are three boxes of pasta and some Rice Chex; it’s the principle). A lot of the cupboard space is devoted to the batterie de cuisine – pots and pans, baking dishes, funky Ikea cheese graters, that awesome grill pan an old roommate left behind when she moved to Australia – so I have to confine my food to two cupboards. Well, two and a half – all the spices are in a third cupboard, where the dishes live, but I have insisted to every roommate that the spices are community property because seriously do you see how much cinnamon and sage we have here, and do you honestly think one person is really going to use this much dried oregano?
However, I also have a kind of impulse-buying problem when it comes to weird food ingredients. If I’m poking around in a Williams-Sonoma, and there’s a special on the cake-decorating sugars set? I get it. Poking around in a Turkish deli and they have some weird semolina used to make dessert? I’ll try it. On a produce run at the funky grocery store in Chinatown, and I run into some rice flour to make mochi? Get a box. The supermarket on your street is having a huge sale and the canned smoked oysters are 80% off? Yoink!
All of which sounds perfectly fine, except for one thing: I don’t regularly decorate cookies or eat enough canned oysters to have them on hand, and I’ve never made Turkish irmik or Japanese mochi in my life.
I just took a long look at the cupboards to see what I could make using what’s already here (and hopefully, use up a lot of it since it’s sitting here not doing anything). In my cupboards right now, I have:
- masa harina flour
- 3 boxes of unflavored gelatin
- two completely different kinds of dry yeast (which I don’t use because I prefer fresh yeast)
- a half a package of bamboo rice
- a package of pink rice
- a package of Kefir culture
- a half a package of gluten-free flour
- a half a jar of coconut oil
- a cheesemaking kit
- three kinds of seaweed
- three kinds of flavored sugars
- a jar of dried chipoltes
- four kinds of dried beans
- three kinds of lentils
- two cans of clam stock
- one can of fish stock
- three cans of two different brands of canned clams
- a small jar of the citrus salt which I only use once a year when I can tomatoes
- three packages of flavored fettucini obtained from a market in Florence, which I avoid using because “they’re special”
- a jar of a fizzy Italian beverage mix which I saw in a supermarket in New York once and is essentially Italian alka-seltzer
- a can of devilled ham
- a jar of a mysterious brown, viscuous liquid which sort of looks like it could be molasses but I’m not sure what it is so I never use it
- udon noodles
- big package of rice noodles
- smaller bundles of rice noodles
- skinnier rice noodles
- a big package of single-serving size unflavored ramen noodles
- a big package of single-serving size unflavored ramen noodles that are skinnier than the other ones
- three tiny bottles of red wine
- one tiny jar of porcini
- one tiny jar of wild rice
- one tiny jar of hazelnuts
- a bag of pecans
- a bag of almonds
- a bottle of partridgeberry sauce brought back by friends after they visited Newfoundland
- a carton of the insanely bright orange flavoring salt that my hometown movie theater used for popcorn during my one summer working there in the 1980’s
And that’s not even counting the cans of pickled jalepenos, pickled garlic scapes, and home-canned jams I’ve got on two shelves in the closet. And we’re not gonna talk about the freezer right now, thanks.
….I probably should start using some of this stuff.