My name is (Mali), and I am a hoarder. Specifically, I hoard in my pantry. And fridge. But mainly pantry. And as my supplies have expanded, so has my storage. I now have several pantries* and they’re all full.
When we installed our kitchen twenty years ago (egads, twenty years ago?), we decided on a small, pull-out pantry in the kitchen next to the fridge. It stocks the everyday essentials – flour, sugars, salt, couscous, all my sauces (various types of soy, nam pla (fish sauce), chilli), vinegars and oils, spreads (honey, jam, marmite and vegemite – unlike many connoisseurs, I eat both, etc), and a few other miscellaneous items that I can’t quite recall. Herb and spice racks didn’t work there, so they’re on the door of another cupboard and I love having easy access to them.
The room right next to my kitchen is a small laundry. Off the side of the laundry is another room/large cupboard, and this is provides walk-in general purpose overflow storage for the kitchen. Large platters, tins, plastic containers, a Lazy Susan, the food processor, lots of cans and bottles of stuff, rice (I buy Thai rice – jasmine and glutinous – in bulk), cleaning products, extra kitchen paper towels, and emergency supplies (eg, water in case of earthquakes, and I-need-wine-now-and-I-can’t-wait-to-go-up-three-flights-of-stairs-to-my-collection wine).
But even with two pantries, I never seemed to have enough storage. So some years ago now we put in new cupboards in the laundry. One set stocks general supplies such as tissues, my Le Creuset collection, booze that won’t fit in the booze cabinet (not because it’s too full, but because the bottles are too tall), cocktail shakers, blender, vases etc. The other is set up pretty much as a pantry, and is full of plastic labelled containers that look neat and organised: arborio rice, blind baking rice, brown rice, baking powder, self-rising flour, cornflour, barley, things I can’t remember, and Christmas mince pie ingredients – currants, dates, raisins, sultanas, etc. And in the pull-out trays underneath are stored more cans (eg tomatoes, tuna, evaporated milk, coconut milk), there’s a pasta draw, a draw full of (unopened)Thai curries, and tagine spice mixes, and dukkah, and much much more. Then there are the bulky things, like juices that I have room for, and an overflow from my herb/spice rack in the kitchen, and convenience foods. Etc.
Yes, I have a problem. You see, I read my quarterly issue of Cuisine magazine, drool over all these interesting recipes with interesting ingredients, and decide “I should make that one day.” And next time I am at the delicious Moore Wilson’s gourmet food store, I pick up ingredients I recognise – passionfruit syrup, pomegranate molasses, verjuice to name just a few. And then, I see other interesting sounding sauces or ingredients, and so I pick those up too. All with wonderful intentions of making some exotic new recipe with these ingredients. One day.
But one day rarely comes. And so my ingredients sit there, and are added to with regular visits to Moore Wilsons. And then I forget what I have. And the use-by date passes. And I buy more. I live in fear of wanting to cook something (or usually, starting to cook something) and finding I don’t have the right ingredients. I’m not sure why – our closest supermarket is only a few minutes drive away. But I succumb to my hoarding, and have extra stocks of things I use often, and end up with, for example, multiple packs of ground cumin, pasta, and cans of crushed tomatoes or jars of tomato passata. I justify this by arguing that these canned goods constitute part of our earthquake emergency supplies.
When I came home from holiday, after months of surviving with one bottle each of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper, and some chicken stock, I was shocked at how much was sitting in the pantry. And I resolved to empty it out by using all these ingredients. I haven’t really started. It will require some planning. But I promise to report on progress.
* This got me wondering. What is the collective noun of pantry? A hoarding of pantries? A grocery? A gourmet?