What do you collect? I didn’t really have any childhood obsessions (minus the paper dolls) and as an adult have spent a regrettable amount on shoes and dresses but I would hardly call the rats nest in my closet a “collection.”
My true collectible has emerged in later years: condiments. Or more accurately, unusual ingredients. Like any good collectible, they can be expensive, hard to find and rarely used. Below are some highlights.
Kombu – the newest addition. It was an impulse buy at the Whole Foods in Cambridge. This may be a lifetime supply. I used it once in making ramen broth – adds a pleasant funkiness – and have no idea where else to use it.
Pomegranate Molasses – a gift from daughter who indulges my obsession and is building a decent collection of her own. So tart, so pretty. Wait, am I talking about my daughter or my Pom-mo? Have used it several times to good effect, most recently in an all day Persian cooking intensive.
Tamarind paste – anytime I order tamarind anything in an Indian restaurant, it is my favorite dish ever (until the next time.) I haven’t had this success at home. Strangely bitter and sour, this little jar is also a lifetime supply.
Sumac – found this huge package at an exotic foods grocery store housed in a former gas station. Who knew our small city housed such a surprising treasure? It was cheap and…a life time supply. It’s lemony and the nice hot pink color that goes well will beige. I also bought the same quantity of Za’atar. Which I later discovered you can make out of sumac.
Plum Wine Vinegar – my vinegar archive is extensive, but this one, purchased years ago in Portland, Maine has yet to find a purpose. Feel free to suggest one. Perhaps it is a lifetime supply?
Artisanal Bitters – an excellent gift from my sister (Bohemian Mary Poppins). I envisioned a multitude of bespoke cocktails. Alas, my lack of imagination has limited me to some truly excellent bourbon Old Fashioneds .
Rose Water – for $1.99 at the Exotic Food market/gas station, who could resist? Well, I should have since I discovered upon unpacking my wares that it was a year past it’s expiration date. Does Rose water expire? And, what is it used for? I am afraid to break the seal and I think is more than a lifetime supply since it will be passed on to my daughter upon my demise.