Good Food Blog
My New Year's resolutionPosted at 10:00AM, 01 January 2009 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
As a food writer I love browsing in food shops and delis and am always on the lookout for interesting new products and innovative ingredients.
But...as I prepare to clear out my cupboards after Christmas, mortifyingly I've come across an unopened bottle of date syrup; a three quarters full bottle of pomegranate molasses; a complete pack of jaggery (palm sugar); pink salt crystals from the Himalayas (bought in a tiny shop in a remote village in Italy!) an almost full bottle of kewra water; a very nearly complete pack of quinoa (no one liked the bitter flavour) a forgotten pack of filé powder which I was going to use to make a gumbo; a barely used box of green lentil powder purchased in France on a whim; a pretty tin of coconut sugar from the Caribbean and an unopened and forgotten bottle of agave syrup languishing forlornly in a corner at the back of the cupboard.
The trouble is there seem to be more and more exciting ingredients coming into the shops. Even my local supermarket stocks prickly pear jelly and bush tomatoes. I'm sorely tempted to pop them into my shopping basket... but in future I'm going to think about all the other exotic and intriguing foods taking up space in my overcrowded kitchen cupboards. Will I really use them and if I do will I use anything more than once or twice? Very few products I've bought have become regularly used, although I do have a sweet tooth so the coconut sugar at least was a good purchase.
A short time ago I was given a collection of wonderful Greek recipes, some using mastic, the crystallised sap from the mastic shrub which apparently has a refreshing, slightly resinous taste and is much used in Greek and Turkish cakes, pastries and confectionery. But now instead of tracking down mastic, I'm going to buy a mastic-flavoured pastry from a Greek bakery to satisfy my urge to try it.
My New Year's resolution for 2009 is definitely and under no circumstances to give in to the temptation of buying novel ingredients to try out in recipes. I'll avoid interesting 'special selection' sections and artisan delis. The new me will resist the lure of all those colourfully-wrapped and enticing products. My kitchen cupboards (and my bank balance) will be better off.
Feeling proud of my (now almost empty) cupboards, I answer the phone to a friend who's calling to tell me about a fabulous new deli that's just opened in town. Apparently they stock maple sugar, chestnut flour and rosemary honey...Help!
Chestnut flour image: Mary Cadogan