Saturday, March 6, 2010

What's in your pantry?

I have a habit of sometimes buying food products because of what's on the outside--gorgeous graphics, colorful bits of happy art to decorate the larder. I once bought a blue tin with a charming Dutch girl holding a bouquet of white tulips on the label. Found it in a little Euro market and looked at it for a long time to try to figure out what was in it, since the language on the can was unknown to me. The shop owner was a handsome Bulgarian woman with an intimidating air of no nonsense about her. So imagine the scene..."Umm, excuse me...yeah, hi...I want to buy this because the label's pretty...can you tell me what it is?" Blank stare...right--got it anyway. It turned out to be canned milk, by the way.

Last year I bought a package of Easter egg dye there. The colors on the package just grabbed me. "You want this?" she asked with a quizzical look on her face. So what if Easter had gone by two weeks ago. I only cared that it had a beautiful painted rooster on the box, and was only ten cents. Who could resist?

My pantry closet is a regular United Nations. I love experimenting with ethnic recipes from everywhere. Like, if ever I were to go to Italy, yes, I'd want to see the statue of David, yes, I would want to see Venice, but first I'd want to visit a local grocery store. I find food and foodstuffs from different cultures fascinating. When I meet people from different countries, one of the first things I like to ask them is "What is your favorite food from home? What are you homesick for?" You'd be surprised how eager people are to tell you, and how delighted they are to teach you how to prepare it. Over the years we have been privileged to host cooking get-togethers representing at least twenty-some nations. The deal is that we purchase whatever our guests tell us, and in return, we learn how to make their favorite food and share a wonderful meal together. It's been a blessing to us because we have made some lasting friendships and we have gained a knowledge of the world beyond our own backyard.

So how about you? What's your favorite culinary journey? Or has anyone else out there ever bought some mystery item just because the packaging was pretty?

9 comments:

Val said...

The tins are lovely..if you want a sugar fix ..I could give you a syrup tart recipe (mix syrup with fine breadcrumbs and bake in an open pastry case (pie crust) :o)

Jodi said...

Val, yes please!

Alexis said...

Jodi,
Your pantry is beautiful! I too like to buy pretty things to spice up the ordinary spaces in my kitchen! I bought a couple of really neat boxes that once held Salt Water Taffy (which i hate!) and I use them for deco.
Also, I need to take a culinary journey because my cooking is getting tired of being stuck in one place!

JoAnn said...

you make me hungry. I'm a reluctant cook...and a reluctant shopper...and a reluctant cleaner. So, you won't find any cute pictures of my pantry. I hide it and pretend it doesn't exist. It's sort of like the black hole of the kitchen.

Val said...

SYRUP TART...
Shortcrust pastry made with 6oz (1 cup)of flour
(that is 1 cup flour, 3/4 stick of butter)

2 tablespoons of fresh white breadcrumbs

3 level tablespoons golden syrup (I have no idea how you are meant to make them level)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind & 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional it cuts the sweetness a bit)

1. Make and Roll out pastry and line a buttered heatproof plate (about 8 inches across) trim extra pastry from edges (keep it)

2.Mix breadcrumbs with syrup and lemon if used, and spread over centre of pastry (leave a 1 inch border)

3.roll out remaining pastry and cut into strips and lay across the syrup mix in a criss cross design. Press ends of strips well into edges ..a little water helps.

4.put plate on a baking tray bake just above the centre of a moderately hot oven 400f for about 30mins or until pastry is golden.

5.serve with cream or yogurt or custard!

Jodi said...

Alexis - love the salt water taffy story - thank you.

JoAnn - I too am a reluctant cleaner, which is horrible since I love to cook, and cooking is
messy.

Val - I so appreciate that you took the time to type out that recipe. Can't wait to try it. Love the comment about the golden syrup - lol!

Joy said...

It's so true, cool, colorful labels are irresistible. I love what you said about the pantry looking like United Nations. So true! So Cunning! And you know me, there's nothing I love more than a cultured palate.

<3

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Chinese grocers' shops are full of treasures .... and it's all delicious too . A bonus for the package afficionado !

Jodi said...

I agree. Chinese grocer shops are lots of fun to explore.

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