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Cuisines for the limited pantry

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Due to a variety of circumstances, the next few weeks will involve me cooking in a bunch of different people's kitchens, many of which will either be fairly unstocked or stocked without me knowing whats there.

As a result, I'm going to have to adapt my cooking style so that I can create an entire meal solely off the stuff I can find in the supermarket without leaving much in the way of excess ingredients when I leave.

That seems to cut a huge chunk of the available repertoire of cuisines for me, all of which seem to require a substantial setup cost in terms of pantry items. Off the top of my head:

Chinese: Soy sauce, five spice powder, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar

SE Asian: Fish sauce, Chillis

Indian: Spices

Italian: Olive Oil

Sure, you can take shortcuts and fudges with each one of those cuisines but I would much rather prefer to keep the integrity and just adapt my cooking towards dishes that are naturally suited towards this sort of situation.

What sorts of foods/cuisines are naturally suited to using fresh ingredients only with no or minimal reliance on pantry items which I might not have access to?

edit: Also, logically following on from this requirement is nothing which requires specialised equipment either. I have my knife, a wooden spoon and an apron. Assume a stove, an oven, a chopping board and a set of basic pans is available but not much else.

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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Got canned tomatos?...you've got tomato sauce. Once you have that, you can make tomato soup. Rip up some bread,add that to thicken it,maybe some hot sauce...

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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It depends so much on the pantry and supplies you find in each kitchen. I once cooked dinner in a house that contained only the following seasonings (other than kechup, mustard, pickles, and hot sauce): salt, pepper, lemon pepper, and cinnamon. No garlic, no onions, no other herbs or spices of any kind, and all the rest prepackaged foods that didn't work well as ingredients.

Look at it as a personal challenge. How creative can you manage faced with unknown ingredients and equipment? I'd see it as a chance to see what you can create from nothing or very little, to see how well you can do outside of your culinary comfort zone. I'll bet you come up with some great dishes in the end.


Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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When in doubt, make soup. That's my motto. One of them anyway.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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