What are the 4 or 5 items you cannot be without in your home pantry? Mine are: kosher salt, butter, good olive oil, lemons.
Speaking for my Shanghainese wife, I'd say Canola oil, "lao" soy sauce (she seems to favor Kimlan label), Shaoxing rice wine, Zhenjiang vinegar and sugar. With these and fresh green onions, she can cook just about anything.
frank's red hot (hides in shame)
butter and lots of it (ok, not really in the pantry, but close by in the fridge and freezer...after cooking 3 major meals last week for multiple guests i think i went through about 11 lbs of butter alone last week. a meal at my house comes with a free angioplasty)
Given an unlimited supply of fresh meat and produce, I think I could get by with just kosher salt, brown or white sugar, and neutral oil.
In the real world, I need an arsenal of spices and seasonings from around the world, but those three are the only things I use every single day.
good olive oil
kosher salt and peppercorns
baguettes to warm