Kitchen staples you have now....that you didn't grow up with
Was throwing together a dinner tonight with whatever I could find in the kitchen. Used cilantro, capers & sriracha to make salmon cakes. These are three ingredients that our house always has on hand....we always make sure we have them....but had never even heard of them growing up. What are your must have on hand staples that you didn't have in the house growing up?
A variety of hot sauces and salts. Growing up, we had Morton's table salt and kosher salt in the house (used for pickling, mostly). I have those basics on hand plus Maldon, French sea salt, and smoked salt.
Also, mom was a great cook but didn't venture into Asian cuisines. I have some basics on hand like: oyster sauce, black bean sauce, a variety of hot chili compounds, tamarind, dried mushrooms, 5-spice, fresh ginger (in the freezer), palm sugar, yuzu sauce, rice wine vinegar, black soy sauce, mirin, furikake, etc.
Like many posters here, I could make a long list of what I keep around now (I'm in my 50s) which we didn't use in my 1960s-70s childhood.
But there are a few items that stand out for being truly unimagined in my early life. I will never fail to have on hand:
two or three kinds of rice (basmati, jasmine, and arborio)
Jars of chili paste
Other things are subtler. For example, I THINK that we had no sense of the need for a pepper grinder, and we'd just shake pre-ground pepper out of those McCormick cans. I also don't recall people thinking much about olive oil, and even less so about varying grades of it.
In my post upthread, I did not mention Dijon mustard, which seems to have been absent from the kitchens of a lot of CH'rs growing up. Actually, my mother never stocked Dijon mustard either, but she always had brown mustard -- i.e., Guldens -- on hand. She kept the neon yellow stuff for me, as I wouldn't eat the brown mustard. What did I know?
A wide variety of herbs and spices with actual tastes and smells, fresh ginger, Sriracha, Tapatio sauce, arborio rice, corn meal, whole wheat flour, coconut milk, a variety of dried beans and grains, capers, prepared mustard that isn't neon yellow, corn tortillas.
My mother didn't particularly like cooking, and relied on packaged foods: the invention of Hamburger helper was like the invention of the printing press for her.
pasta in shapes other than spaghetti & macaroni
jalapeno peppers (both fresh & canned)
whole wheat flour
rice wine vinegar
herbes de provence
lettuces & greens other than iceberg or Romaine
whole coffee beans (Mom made instant)
Actually, we've been grinding our own for about 30 years (has to be more than 25 because I recall having a grinder at the condo we lived in before our current home) -- dating back to the day when I declared that the expensive ground coffee we were buying from a specialty store seemed to be going stale before it was used up.
It's gonna be a long list...my mother was not a particularly adventurous cook.
salsa (either in a jar or homemade)
fresh herbs, other than chives and mint
whole spices (including black pepper)
fermented black beans
dried shiitake mushrooms
10 kinds of dried chilis
I'm sure there's a lot more. I just can't quite remember what all the bottles are in the door of the fridge...
Don't recall having hot sauce around as a kid. It was always M-Whip, too... not real mayo. For pancakes/waffles, it was Log Cabin... now it's REAL maple syrup for me. Vinegar was probably only apple cider vinegar.
Now I have WAY more vinegars and condiments that one person needs. I'm especially a sucker for about anything at little local Asian market that owners recommend.
At least 10 kinds of cheese, bacon fat, Sriracha, sambal oelek, oyster sauce, fish sauce, Thai curry pastes, black bean paste, sherry vinegar, lentils, pickled jalapenos, the list goes on. My parents' culinary palates have expanded since I was a kid, though, so many of these items can probably be found in their pantry now.
Fresh garlic, curry paste, sriracha, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger - I always have these on hand and certainly never saw them in my mom's kitchen! It's funny to me that even these "staples" have evolved in my kitchen as my cooking has evolved