My 85-year-old mother has hardly anything in her fridge: some milk and eggs, a couple of tomatoes (she won’t listen that tomatoes should never be refrigerated), a cucumber, some lettuce, a couple of lemons, and a bit of cheese. On the mostly-empty pantry shelves there’s rice, an onion, a box of cereal, some bananas and a few potatoes. In the cupboard there is coffee, very old garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, and some olive oil. In the freezer are stashes of things she made some weeks ago, a little bundle of dill wrapped in a paper towel and secured in a plastic bag, some meat she got on special, and maybe some frozen spinach.
That’s it. Not counting spices and condiments, she’s got maybe 15 items of food to last for weeks.
Oh my god no. That woman can cook. She’s like Jesus with half a loaf of bread and a fish. She spends hardly any money at all on food and can turn out wonders. I’m not going to tell you what cause that could blow my secret identity. But I will tell you that she grew up under Nazi occupation super hungry. But more importantly, she was steeped in an old world culture with its ancient food ways.
You don’t need a lot of different kinds of food to make a lot of amazingly delicious meals. You just need to know the “pattern languages” of food. For millennia peoples all over the world learned to make much with little, leaning on the knowledge past down over generations.
These did not include Cool Ranch Dorito chips for $3 a bag. I know it’s been said many times, many ways, but our way of eating sucks.
Learn from your mother, or maybe her mother or father or uncle, how to cook the old world way, how to turn oh so little into oh so much delicious bounty.
And then save a bundle of money.