Always go shopping when you’re
hungry. You will be more inspired, but stay in produce and
out of the junk food aisles.
Stock your pantry with great “surrounding”
ingredients from ethnic markets; so that you can whip up
an exotic meal every night of the week with simple additions
from the supermarket.
Shop often. Once you have a great pantry, it is simple to
stop by a fish market or butcher's shop for your center
ingredient and arrive home to find everything else you need.
Don’t fill your freezer with meat or fish; it will
never be as good as when it was fresh.
Keep a checklist on a clipboard hanging
in your pantry. List all your favorite ingredients and check
them off whenever you finish them. Take the list to the
market and you’ll know exactly what you need.
Buy in season. This mostly has to do with fruits and vegetables,
but with some fish as well. Some people say that it is always
summer somewhere, but when something has to be picked hard
for shipping, gas chilled, and sent halfway around the world,
it won’t taste as good as what you would pick up at
a roadside stand.
Get to know your fishmonger, butcher,
and produce guy. Not only is it nice to visit friends when
you shop, but they will know what is best that day. They
may even go to the back to get you something special. The
butcher will cut you steaks from the better end of the sirloin
and the fishmonger will give you tuna from the eye. Do yourself
a favor and put them on your holiday shopping list. It will
pay off all year long.
Go to out-of-the-way ethnic markets and
shops. You’ll find great things to play with in your
kitchen. I love to theme a party around a trip to a Middle
Eastern market, Chinatown, or Little Brazil. It is really
like taking a mini-vacation.
When on a real vacation, bring back flavors
from your trip to your home kitchen. Ask chefs and waiters
at restaurants how dishes are prepared and take notes so
you can try them at home later. I always pick up spices,
prepared sauces, and spirits for later experimentation back
in the States.