Bizarre Artifacts From the Depths of My Pantry

Okay, sorry, I’ll admit it. I’m kind of a Monica and I love cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of things. Last weekend I decided to clean out the fridge and go through my cupboards, a daunting task given the fact that I am a bit of a food hoarder. Not in the “gross, what is that sheath of mold around that Tupperware?!” way, but in the charming “Oh look at this rare spice, I should stockpile a container of it just in case!” kind of way.

Here are the most surprising discoveries I unearthed while in the throes of my mission:

Not one, not two, but three kinds of nutmeg. Why? WHYYY? How did this come to be? What do I even use nutmeg for? My squash soup, I guess. And various roasted vegetables. Maybe spice cookies sometimes? I don’t know, I don’t know. This is basically a lifetime supply.

Um. Random “souvenirs” from Australia? These are all like three years old and I totally had no idea they were still in my pantry. Maybe I had big plans for the port wine jell-o in the past, but clearly by this point all those dreams have been shattered.

On the left/middle: two baggies of homemade spice mixes. On the top is a cajun spice rub from a summer BBQ, and on the left is umami powder, left over from this recipe. (Which I cooked/posted in the beginning of the summer! I mean, spice mixes don’t go bad, right?) On the right is a bag of saffron I purchased in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul! I’m just so well-traveled, humblebrag to the max, apologies. This is from summer 2009. I ask the same question I asked above: this doesn’t expire, right? I guess I’m not a sophisticated, exotic person who uses mass amounts of saffron in her day-to-day (or, year-to-year, apparently) cooking.

Trendy foodie ingredients. We have…black garlic! This one can’t go bad because the garlic is already fermented, or so I am telling myself. I bought this stuff online from England when it first hit the market a year or so ago. It’s really good in certain pastas and whatnot. I should probably try to use it more often.  In the middle is agave syrup… a pretty hip and I guess “healthy” sweetener, but looks like I haven’t really made much of an effort to actually substitute it for sugar. Finally, we have crystallized ginger chips. The fatal flaw of this one is: I don’t bake hardly ever, nor do I especially like cooking sweet things in general. I think I got these to make ginger cookies a couple Christmases ago. I should probably gift them to our very own BakersRoyale, who could surely do them more justice than I ever could.

Ahh, Grecian sea salt. I’ve been hoarding this bad boy for three years as well. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just can’t part with this stuff. Is it any better than your average American table salt? Who knows, but I can tell you that the memories sure are worth keeping this little plastic canister around. Even if there is only a tiny sprinkle left inside.

So yes, my pantry is bizarre. I think what it comes down to is this: food is more than just FOOD. These amusing remnants represent sentiments, memories, plans, and possibilities. I just don’t have the heart to toss any of these potential treasures. Who knows when I might come up with the perfect recipe incorporating nutmeg, passionfruit pulp, agave syrup, crystallized ginger, Turkish saffron, and Grecian sea salt?

What’s in your pantry?

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  • Shirley @ gfe February 3, 2012  

    In my pantry, it’s usually more that the containers hold special memories. I have cake and cup decorating stuff in those obnoxious red Fireball containers that my late FIL used to give my son, full of Fireballs no less. 😉 I have all sorts of baskets and tins that were gifts from family and friends, or that I picked up on special vacations. The food contents of my pantry change fairly often (and reflect how traditional or daring my cooking might be at the moment), except for the liquor on the top shelf. I’ve been known to hold on to bottles of liquor for inordinately long amounts of time, just so I’d have a more varied, more attractive display. Some of them do have fond memories, too. Like the peppermint schnapps that one friend who was actually a devoted beer drinker would always have as a nightcap. I can’t help but think of him and smile whenever I see that bottle. Great post!


  • ML February 3, 2012  

    Two months ago when I was cleaning out our pantry i found FOUR cans of Pam…..

  • erica February 4, 2012  

    last fall i cleaned out a bunch of raw vegan trend powdery things[ that were five years old or more. i always meant to use up that maca, but when i discovered it tastes just like tooth dust (EW)… i couldn’t take it anymore.

    i’m ashamed to admit i’ve got tamarind pods i’ve had for years and never did anything with, and some ancient cookie sprinkles that may date back to college cir. 1996. however, since my mom has some that i’m pretty sure pre-date me, i’m going to chalk that up to genetics.

  • Lora February 5, 2012  

    A funny post that hit home. Pantries definitely reveal personalities and here one has traveled. Mine is a hodgepodge of spices collected in markets all over the world. I also have some of those off beat purchases hanging out way after their due dates have expired like sugar beet syrup from Germany.

  • Chris February 6, 2012  

    All of those spices, including the lovely and precious saffron, are now useless sawdust. 🙁

    If you truly want a lifetime supply of nutmeg, and better tasting nutmeg, buy the whole nuts. Those suckers never go bad and can be easily ground with your trusty microplane. Us generously in curries.

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