Ah yes, the pantry. Every chef’s secret arsenal. At the beginning of each year, I inventory my pantry of what’s needs tossing, what I need to stock up on and so forth. But not too long ago, it was a toxic wasteland, harboring the white powders of death: table salt, white flour, sugar, and well, all that other stuff I knew was unhealthy and even things I didn’t realize that were sabotaging me. Trusted brands touting convenient snack foods I’d grabbed on the fly: cookies, crackers, chips, and the innocent-looking things like jarred salsas, canned soups, packaged mixes I’d make dressings, sauces, and dips from. That’s when I deputized myself as the food police and rounded up the usual suspects of packaged seasoning mixes, and anything processed. Sad to say, there wasn’t much left except vinegar, oil, and a plethora of dry herbs and spices.
After replacing toxic foodstuffs with healthier ones [Himmalayn salt, housemade granola. whole grains, beans/pulses, dried fruit, nuts and homemade snacks like baked tortilla strips and dehydrated apple chips], I moved on to create my own seasoning mixes, salt blends, infused oils, flavored vinegars, and extracts. Economically, it just made sense to buy the herbs and spices in bulk and make the blends myself, at least then, I knew what went in them, and ultimately in me.
I’ll wager there are herbs, spices, oils, and vinegar hanging out in your pantry, waiting to be repurposed into culinary blends worthy of a European gourmand shop.