The Modern Pantry

Everything you need from acid and sweetness to fishy funk

The Modern Pantry isn't just a place to store corn flakes. It's a state of culinary preparedness, a tool kit for flexible meal-making. Thinking about what to stock it with, we asked ourselves some basic questions: What are the condiments, sauces and basic ingredients that we always find ourselves reaching for? What items do we require for that easy access to a hit of spice, the touch of sweet, a splash of acid or an undergirding of umami?

Assembled here are our picks for what we always want close at hand. Yes, there are necessary basics too obvious to mention: flour, sugar, rice, olive oil, kosher salt and fresh peppercorns for grinding. These are our nominations for the flavors we want today, the basic building blocks of the stuff we like to make and eat. There's the salty funk we seek from fish sauce, for instance, or the incredibly flexible sour-salty flavor enhancing power of DIY stars, preserved lemons. No matter what you're cooking, these updated essentials will have you ready for whatever recipe comes your way.