Slideshow SLIDESHOW: What's in Your Cold Pantry?

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Inspired in part by this Talk thread posted by philandlauren and in part because my refrigerator completely broke down last week and was thus primed for a massive clean-up, clear-out, and reorganization, I decided to sort, categorize, and photograph most-but-not-all of the stuff in my cold pantry.

It doesn't include fresh items like eggs, milk, butter, and the like—things which must be replaced. But it does include everything that even after a year or more of storage is still perfectly edible: sauces, condiments, salty preserved foods, and the like.

For me, they form an essential part of my cooking arsenal; preserved and salty items like these are the best way to bring depth and flavor to quick pantry meals. These coupled with the items in my dry pantry (which I might reorganize and tackle soon enough), I can whip together literally hundreds of quick Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, North African with little fuss and minimal extra ingredients. A bit of meat, a few vegetables, some rice or other grains, you get the picture.

I know all you cooks out there have your own go-to sauces, condiments, and refrigerator staples. Let's hear about'em, yeah?

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