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9 Items or Less, Your Culinary Time Capsule

After following the, "Bucket List" and "You in a bottle" threads I thought it might be cool to see how all of you Chow Hounders would sum up your love of food in 9 items or less. Assuming nothing would spoil what food items, cookbooks, cook tools, take-out menus etc would you put in your time capsule? For me:
1) a jar of salsa
2) a jar of kim chee
3) lemons...lot of lemons
4) bottle of wine, (Red Burgundy, Champagne or Sancerre)
5) french fries
6) menu from Hot & Spicy Thai with chicken fried rice circled
7) Cast Iron Skillet
8) Epoisses
9) A copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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  1. Great topic. Difficult choices. I'm speaking strictly for me right now, since my food tastes keep changing.
    1) dark chocolate
    2) Laurel's kitchen bread book-because it is my most-used cookbook
    3) aged gouda-chocolate and gouda are just two things I keep in my fridge almost all of the time.
    4) microplane grater (UGH! I've barely started and I'm already almost half-way used up my choices!!!) Although it's not the most essential kitchen tool I have, I'd include it, b/c it represents the kind of gadgets I like, because it is very versatile: it grates cheese, chocolate, citrus, cinnamon, and nutmeg! It is a cinch to clean and a cinch to use, and one of the best $15 investments I've ever made. I really love this gadget to pieces. It's superior to any grater I have/had.
    5) ginger in all forms-to represent the spices I use and the different forms. I use it in savories, as well as in drinks, as a digestive aid, and in desserts!
    6) rice (I don't eat it so much anymore, but it's such a part of who I am!)
    7) my 3 knives (probably the most essential tools in my kitchen)
    8) a bento box (jubako) with a sampling of all of my parents' osechi (my most favorite holiday food)
    9) I'm torn. Lemons, an edamame (which will represent all soy products I eat), or umeboshi. I think I'm leaning towards edamame. But if you gave me 10 choices, #10 would be a meyer lemon. :)

    It's hard to condense all of my favorite foods, drinks, take out joints, gadgets and condiments into just 9!

    3 Replies
    1. re: anzu

      1) My smoker
      2) Prime Porterhouse steaks
      3) Don Julio 1942 tequila
      4) King crab legs
      5) Lobster
      6) my chefs knife
      7) Sriracha sauce
      8) pork ribs
      9) jalapenos

      1. re: anzu

        LOL I know, I changed my like 4 times before I posted....really is diffacult.

        1. re: anzu

          Ok, since GB mentioned 2 lists, I'm taking the liberty to list my "second" list. :) this is how my childhood "list of 9" would look. Interestingly, after making the list, I realized that it looks very western and non-Japanese, in spite of the fact that our meals were for the most part, very traditional.

          What I did was list the first 9 things that I had strong or fond memories of, so I think this means that the more rare or "special occasion foods" were emphasized (probably the rarity made it a more memorable thing?).

          1. cambell's soup (my mom's favorite "side" when my dad was on business)
          2. baguette, sausage links and havarti cheese from local butcher we used to frequent
          3. barley tea
          4. a box of cereal (can't decide which one--cherrios, kix, life, lucky charms (as an occasional treat)--one of these.)
          5. onigiri--Japanese picnic food, and until second grade or so, my default lunch box food.
          6. hot pot (nabe)- we had this a lot during my teen years. My dad was/is a big fan of this during the winter. I used think it was so boring, but now (sigh), it's like comfort food.
          7. apples (apple-picking was a tradition for us)
          8. Nick's pizza from my hometown
          9. kit kat (the favorite of all those candy bars and other junk food we used to eat. Also, I associate it with halloween, and to this day, I still buy them once a year and use the halloween giving out candy thing as an excuse.:))

          Wonder bread should probably go on there too, since we grew up on that stuff, but I already listed a bread item, and that was more of a special treat, so I'll go with that.

          Very different from my current list!

        2. Really interesting question. I hope many others will chime in as I'm curious as to what people will say. It was really difficult it to narrow it to just 9.

          1. a yukon gold potato -- it's my favorite all-purpose potato. I have fond memories of making mashed potatoes as a kid on a Saturday morning and watching cartoons.
          2. copy of The French Laundry cookbook -- not only is the food wonderful there but you can appreciate how much work goes into a meal when reading all the steps involved.
          3. a mangosteen -- my favorite fruit in the entire world.
          4. Huy Fong's sriracha -- my favorite condiment in the entire world; just like bacon, it makes everything taste better (except for desserts)
          5. extra spicy soon tofu -- one of my favorite comfort meals; also I had to pick something reflecting my Korean heritage
          6. highly fragrant jasmine tea -- when I drink this, I'm transported back 30-something years as a kid hanging out in the back of my dad's jewelry shop
          7. Le Creuset dutch oven -- probably my most used item in the kitchen -- make everything from stir-fries to soup to braises in it; while I'd love a wok, I just don't have the room for it right now
          8. a slice of NYC pizza -- ate a ton of them as a kid; there's nothing better than the simple combo of dough, tomato sauce and cheese in the world
          9. a box of Pierre Herme's macarons -- life-altering; so delectable and love his intriguing flavors; truly a sensual experience

          2 Replies
          1. re: Miss Needle

            1. Pool Hall chili, grew up with this in the mountains of KY
            2. Cincinnat chili, discovered this in college
            3. Dungeness crab, why we can never live anywhere except the West Coast
            4. My favorite wooden spoon, not much bigger than a serving spoon, I have used it for 40+ years. It fits my hand.
            5. A cast iron skillet, no Southern Belle can go without one.
            6. My recipe for Chess pie, a wedding present.
            7. My huge accordion file of recipes. These are the tear outs, internet, friends handed to me recipes.
            8. My 5 burner DCS
            9. My husband who taught me to cook and to eat something besides meat and potatoes.

            1. re: Janet

              Very cool answers....that 1942 Tequila is on my husband's list too! I love how rich in personal history some of these answers are...very interesting.

          2. Holy, was this hard! Alright, this is the first draft..like everyone else, I'm sure it will change on any given day.
            1. slice of 3AM funky pickle pizza
            2. bottle of champagne
            3. lobster
            4. Hello Dolly squares
            5. Grammy's raisin brown bread
            6. Yukon gold potato (someone else said it, and I agree!)
            7. apple pie with cheddar cheese (without it is like a kiss without a squeeze)
            8. Mom's recipe box, given to me from my sister after mom's passing...such treasures!
            9. Kenya AA coffee beans

            2 Replies
            1. re: KayceeK

              I have to ask, what is #AM funky pickle pizza?

              1. re: bubbles4me

                Funky Pickle is THE best hole-in-the-wall pizza join in Edmonton Alberta. After a night out on the town, nothing beats it. Odd ingredient combos, but the crust, the sauce, the additional toppings including even honey, add up to the perfect night-ender.

            2. 1. Lobster
              2. Aborio rice
              3. Large leaf basil
              4. A Cuore de Toro tomato
              5. A fresh fig
              6. Sweet ricotta pie
              7. Ruggeri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Cartizze
              8. My 12" Wustof chef's knife
              9. Edward Gioggi's "Eat Right, Eat Well the Italian Way".

              2 Replies
              1. re: Gio

                The author's name is Edward Giobbi. I hit the wrong keys.......

                1. re: Gio

                  the Cartizze is a good one, Gio. definitely a keeper.

                2. See, the problem is, there are two lists - how I would like to be remembered (the cook I aspire to be!) versus how honesty compels me to answer, based on my cooking predilections at present. Sigh. Honesty always wins.

                  1. chef's knife
                  2. homegrown heirloom tomato (I'm leaning towards Black Prince - they were the best I grew this summer)
                  3.imported Italian pasta
                  4. recipe files and breadbaking notebooks (does this count as one item?)
                  5. one of my le creuset pots
                  6. slab of green & blacks organic dark chocolate
                  7. stoneground local flour - it goes into everything from bread to cakes to dumplings
                  8. one of my pottery bowls - I love collecting handmade ceramics
                  9. one of my favourite cookbooks. Something by Chez Panisse, Elizabeth David or Jane Grigson, I can't choose.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Gooseberry

                    Some time, when you are so inclined, would you be willing to post about some of the Grigson recipes that you like? I have her English Food book, but haven't used it yet.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Hi MMRuth, I don't have her English Food book, unfortunately. I have Good Things, Fruit Book and Vegetable Book. The last two are brilliant, one of the early cookbooks to list recipes by ingredient, so when I want ideas about what to do with X, I go to the whole chapter on X.

                      Perhaps more than any individual recipe, I love how she wrote. She was so knowledgeable about the literary and academic backgrounds of different foods and ingredients, and yet her tone is without pomposity. I find her warmer than Elizabeth David when it comes to tone, sympathetic to the reader but very commonsensical.

                      I've made lots of her recipes, but perhaps her arbutus jelly - prickly pear and passionfruit "jelllo"- is my favourite. Sorry I can't help you with your specific cookbook! Although hopefully I'll own it one of these days...

                      1. re: Gooseberry

                        Thanks - I'll look into the other two as well.

                  2. 1.) Our food itinerary from our honeymoon in B.C.- oh, how I love spreadsheets!
                    2.) the champagne cork from our wedding night
                    3.) My family cookbook (that's almost finished!! Woo hoo!)
                    4.) sweet potato fries with honey mustard dipping sauce
                    5.) really good and ripe watermelon
                    6.) Kitchenaid mixer
                    7.) apple cider slushes from Rees's Fruit Farm in Topeka, KS
                    8.) Tapatio hot sauce
                    9.) picture of my great grandma and great grandpa with her apple pie on the table for "Cook of the Week" at our local newspaper

                    1. 1. My Kitchen Aid mixer
                      2. My Cuisinart food processor
                      3. My Waring blender
                      4. My Sabatier 10" chefs knife
                      5. My Jura Capresso super automatic espresso machine
                      6. My fully stocked freezer
                      7. My fully stocked pantry
                      8. My fully stocked spice rack (including coffee beans)
                      9. Yellow heirloom tomatoes.

                      1. 1. My pre-WWII Japanese rice pot with unending supply of Japanese rice
                        2. Endless platter of Lao laab, kao niyao, greens, and sausage
                        3. Functioning Mexican market food stall open all day
                        4. A magic tandoori oven pumping out naan, mutton, ...
                        5. The pan campesino & goat's milk cheese sold afternoons, Tarija, Bolivia, 1970s
                        6. Mom's nori/maki zushi
                        7. Morning pho from Canh Tho
                        8. Endless bottle of chile sauce that changes according to dish
                        9. Magic bottle that provides cold beer, a great red, or Flor de Cana rum as needed

                        1. 1) My Asian Cleaver
                          2) My potato plant
                          3) My outdoor pizza oven (I am assuming this time capsule is Tardis-like!)
                          4) My cast iron pot
                          5) My Meyer lemon tree
                          6) My garlic plant
                          7) My rosemary plant
                          8) My sourdough "mother"
                          9) A genetically engineered sheep/pig/cow that replaced the parts of it I cut off to dine on.

                          1. 1. my mother, since she's my favorite chef alive and would come out unscathed and she doubles as a cookbook, since she knows how to make almost everything
                            2. an internet connection (for looking up recipes and reading chowhound)
                            3. my wusthoff 8" chef knife (my first, my only baby)
                            4. mom's rice cooker (the old school kind you can also use to steam anything) -- probably like sam's pre-wwII one
                            5. dosai, papri chaat, chopped liver, latkes or yellowtail nigiri -- whichever one was my favorite at the precise moment the time capsule was sealed
                            6. fresh churned butter
                            7. my grandmother's apricot tree in peak season
                            8. matcha powder
                            9. my dog, my most appreciative audience, ever

                            1. fun topic! let me wrack my brain here...

                              1. ti kuan yin oolong tea (all time favorite tea, and also symobolizes my stint at a tea company)
                              2. sea salt
                              3. a squid
                              4. goat cheese
                              5. Microplane grater (I saw that below and I'm just realizing how much I love mine...my friend uses a sorry-ass grater thing for ginger into her chai and realize that she needs one too, haha)
                              6. French macaroons (I love them, and I don't nearly have them enough)
                              7. Kitchen Aid mixer (I bake entirely too much for my own good)
                              8. heirloom tomatoes
                              9. brown rice

                              1. funny, I was just thinking today about the 3 things I could not live without in my kitchen, so I now I get to triple the list!

                                1) chef's knife
                                2) garlic
                                3) a fresh herb pot with basil, Italian parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, chives, sage (is this considered cheating?)
                                4) olive oil
                                5) eggs
                                6) stone crab
                                7) cote du rhone
                                8) flour (i can make pasta with the eggs and flour!)
                                9) locatelli romano

                                thanks for such a thought provoking post!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: chicaraleigh

                                  Ha, thank you for responding! This felt like a perfect Chowhound topic...maybe it is too hard? Herb pot...not cheating, the poster above that included a fully stocked pantry and fridge first had me thinking, "Hey thats cheating" but she thought of it and it was a smart answer....wish I had thought of it.
                                  I hope others post as these are all very interesting answers and with each one I find one item that I should have had on my list...fun

                                  1. re: bubbles4me

                                    Thanks for the recognition. Spottting the loopholes is an acquired skill. When granted three wishes, my third wish is always that I have three more wishes! '-)

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      1. Kimchee
                                      2. Jasmine Rice
                                      3. Jasmine Green Tea
                                      4. Sriracha
                                      5. Burnt Ends from Fiorella's Jack Stack in KC
                                      6. Margherita Pizza from Spin Pizza in KC
                                      7. Veuve Cliquot Rose
                                      8. Peaches
                                      9. Rare Ahi Tuna

                                      Is food from a restaurant allowed?

                                2. Too many favorites, too little time...
                                  1--Boneless skinless chicken thighs
                                  2--Szechuan peppercorns
                                  3--Dark chocolate
                                  4--Wine, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy
                                  5--Counter Culture coffee
                                  6--the authentic Chinese menu at China Palace up the road (especially Chinese Broccoli with Garlic or Dry Fried Tofu with Shredded Pork)
                                  7--Caprese salad--nearly daily here since the tomato abundance kicked in
                                  8--Okra--bought the last few Sat mornings at the farmers market, sauteed Sat evening with chili flakes and olive oil, mmmmmm
                                  9--my Wusthof chef's knife

                                  (and wishing I could squeeze in my prized Fuschia Dunlop cookbooks!)

                                  1. Wow, this is so hard. How come only 9 items?!
                                    Without going too far into detail, here are nine basic things for my time capsule:
                                    1. a bunch of fresh basil
                                    2. a dish of meat tortellini from Bologna, cooked in chicken broth and drizzled with olive oil, black pepper and parmigiano reggiano
                                    3. french fries with Heinz Ketchup
                                    4. mozzarella di bufala di campania, dop
                                    5. Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream with hot fudge, whipped cream and Reese's Pieces
                                    6. lemons
                                    7. champagne
                                    8. my great-grandmother's recipe book (in purely phonetic English, with some Abruzzese dialect thrown in)
                                    9. a wooden spoon

                                    1. Taking the tack that a time capsule should be informative and have historical merit, I'd go with:

                                      1. Big Mac
                                      2. A Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
                                      3. A Pizza Hut buffalo chicken pizza with stuffed cheese crust
                                      4. A six of Coors Lite
                                      5. PF Chang Pork Lo Mein
                                      6. Outback Bloomin' Onion or Chili's /Awesome Blossom
                                      7. A menu from Cheesecake Factory
                                      8. A gallon of HFCS
                                      9. A lengthy note explaining how the above destroyed civilization with dire warnings not to eat any of the contents, even though many are probably still preserved for another century.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                        Nothin' wrong with the occasional Big Mac.

                                        1. re: KayceeK

                                          In hindsight, I guess I could've gone with something more absurd, like a Baconater or a BK Triple, but neither of those have the reach and frequency to cause widespread societal doom.

                                        2. I love this idea! Here's my culinary time capsule:

                                          1. A bottle of buffalo sauce
                                          2. Some fresh salmon sushi nigiri
                                          3. A takeout menu from Big Bowl
                                          4. Creme Brulee (my homemade mediocre variety)
                                          5. My grandma's chicken matzo ball soup
                                          6. Bagel Bites
                                          7. Barbecue chicken from Woodfire
                                          8. Pierogies
                                          9. A copy of the Amateur Gourmet book!

                                          A pretty confusing time capsule huh! :) Thanks for the fun prompt!

                                          1. Love this question! :)

                                            1. Larousse Gastronomique - could not live without it.
                                            2. Olive oil
                                            3. Fleur de Sel
                                            4. My All-Clad cookware
                                            5. My Global knives
                                            6. Granite mortar and pestle (mine is gigantic!)
                                            7. Poultry (especially duck)
                                            8. My Professional Series Kitchen Aid Mixer
                                            9. My set of microplanes
                                            10. Sorry - I know it is supposed to be 9 but I MUST include Parmesan and balsamic (the real thing - $125 per 125 ml)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: chefathome

                                              Hmm. I own Larousse, and I use it occasionally as a reference, or to satisfy my curiosity about the 'traditional' way to make a dish, but I don't think I've ever cooked anything straight out of it. Ever.

                                              What are you making out of it that makes it indispensible? What am I missing out on?

                                              1. re: Gooseberry

                                                Good question! I find it so intriguing as I am really into ingredients and food history. I do not use a lot of recipes but get a lot of great ideas and techniques from it. It is a book I read constantly as I love to learn. Perhaps it is the chef in me! :) It is wonderful reading and reference material as I create so many recipes of my own (I teach cooking classes). It is inspirational to me.

                                            2. Cheeses







                                              Soups: Tomato, Potato, Split Pea, Hot and Sour...homey comfort soups

                                              Thai or Chinese take-out menus

                                              Maybe even Peanut Butter. Peanut butter toast is something I can eat over and over.

                                              Pretty simple tastes, I guess. Like someone else said, this could change in 2 hours. I am hungry right now for soothing foods.

                                              This is a fun read and fun to think about, bubbles4me.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: fern

                                                Thank you for posting! This has been a really fun thread to read and I can just imagine everyone painfully trying to narrow it down to 9 items...maybe we should do a montly 9 items or less...just to let everyone know what new thing you cant live without!
                                                Thanks to everyone for posting, chowhounders are truly passionate people...kinda cool to get to know your ultimate can not live without foods!

                                              2. All right - let's see if I can limit this to 9 (and watch how creative I get with my numbering!)
                                                1) Grandma's Sunday spaghetti dinner - the meat sauce, meatballs, sausage, salad perfectly dressed with not much morte than vinegar and oil, good italian bread and sweet butter.... When I was little this was Sunday afternoon.The sauce recipe is the one my mom, my bros. and I still use with some minor variations. Wish I could eat pasta as much as I did as a kid!
                                                2) Fried Shrimp - All right, I haven't had this since I was a kid, but when I was a kid it was my favorite thing to order in restaurants. Definitely is a slice of me.
                                                3) New England Clambake. Lobster, Steamers, Fish or Clam Chowder, Corn on the Cob, red potatoes, steamed mussels too...I went to college in Boston, had my first apartments in Boston, learned about seafood in Boston - the thing I miss most about Boston has to be cheap lobster...drives up to NH or Maine and even cheaper lobster...
                                                4) Shrimp Saag, Lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala....College roommate was indian and learned to appreciate real indian food - usually order the vindaloo when I'm trying a new Indian restaurant: if it's mild enough for me to eat comfortably, I know i'm in trouble!
                                                5) Joe's Shanghai soup dumplings....I know West costers think joe's are sub par, but maybe it's because these were the first soup dumplings I ever had, for me they set the standard. I'll settle for the ones at JJ or Mei Long Village or Din Tai Fung - but the first place I eat when I hit NY is Joe's!
                                                6) Vietnamese - pho, bun, summer rolls, canh chua - oh just give me access to everything on the menu!
                                                7) Le Bernadin Tasting menu - it was the first 5 star rated meal I ever had and a 30th birthday present from my best friend - A great night with great food and great wine. What else can I say?
                                                8) Ribeye steaks
                                                9) Stone fruit: cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, etc. God I love stone fruit season....

                                                1. Oh goodness. This is tough...

                                                  1. My "Tried Recipes" and "Recipes to Try" folders in my favorites list to give an idea of what I like to cook.
                                                  2. My muffin tin, loaf pan, and cake pans. I bake at LEAST twice a week. (I'd stack one inside the other so it's only one item)
                                                  3. A bottle of Auslese, my favorite everyday wine.
                                                  4. Organic Blueberries
                                                  5. Rare Yellowfin Tuna
                                                  6. Char Siu Bao and a Pineapple Bun - Two things I love, but rarely enjoy as they are never available in my area.
                                                  7. A sampling of whatever was growing in my garden at the time.
                                                  8. Strawberry Twizzlers ( so sue me )
                                                  9. Peppermint Stick Ice Cream from GD Ritzys

                                                  1. 1. A Side of Beef
                                                    2. Coffee Beans-- Coffee Grinder-- Coffee Pot-- Coffee Mug
                                                    3. Various compound Butters
                                                    4. Yams and Sweet Potatoes
                                                    5. Heavy Cream
                                                    6. Fine Chocolates
                                                    7. Sharp Knives
                                                    8. BBQ Grill and Smoker (with fuel for the fire)
                                                    9. Salt and Pepper

                                                    1. Love this resurrected topic:

                                                      1. Olive oil
                                                      2. Chefs knife
                                                      3. Franks hot sauce
                                                      4. Prime rib eye
                                                      5. Neapolitan pizza
                                                      6. Cheeseburger
                                                      7. Hot dog
                                                      8. Macallan 12 yr
                                                      9. Sierra Nevada

                                                      That's in no specific order. Really, the list should have alcohol all at the top and be comprised completely of alcohol. I can't believe an egg dish and my cast iron skillet didn't make the list, but they didn't. This should honestly be a top 20...

                                                      1. 1. [empty tin of] real Beluga caviar. Maybe one tiny egg for them.
                                                        2. Olympic oyster
                                                        3. Piece of cod, with book, "Biography of Cod, the fish that changed the world"
                                                        4. Real heirloom tomato
                                                        5. Tiny white truffle
                                                        6. Slice of foie gras
                                                        7. Array of condiments in packets: mayo, ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce
                                                        8. Bottles of water, a few kinds. Interesting for water-as-commodity & current ubiquitous use of plastic.
                                                        9. Photos and descriptions of the above

                                                        1. my chinese cleaver
                                                          Dungenese crabs (wife included)
                                                          Escoffier cooks book
                                                          fresh fish
                                                          wild birds
                                                          rice cooker containing endless rice
                                                          clarified butter
                                                          trunk full of vegetable seeds.
                                                          Full set of 'T304' ss pots/pans

                                                          1. 1.) Wok
                                                            2.) Soy sauce
                                                            3.) Sesame oil
                                                            4.) Broccoli
                                                            5.) Rice
                                                            6.) Garlic
                                                            7.) Ginger
                                                            8.) Lemons
                                                            9.) Grenadine syrup

                                                            If it looks like I always eat stir-fry with a lemon-grenadine libation... pretty much. Hopefully my next capsule will not be so narrowly focused! I'll try again in a year.

                                                            1. Oh, what a fun thread to resuscitate!

                                                              1) unsalted butter
                                                              2) sweet or yellow onions
                                                              3) mushrooms
                                                              4) Vegeta seasoning mix
                                                              5) sauvignon blanc (California or New Zealand)
                                                              6) Bi Rite salted caramel ice cream
                                                              7) my old-school black & white speckled roasting pan
                                                              8) coconut oil
                                                              9) a burger with bacon, cheese & avocado

                                                              So much more! I'd say though, that an item in 1-4 is in 75% of what I cook.