Molly Broder remembers it like it was yesterday.
When she and her husband, Tom, opened Broder’s Cucina Italiana in 1982, “no one in Minnesota had even heard of balsamic vinegar,” she said. “Olive oil was almost impossible to find. Grocery stores only carried a tiny pyramid-shaped bottle called Pompeii, enough for one rarely cooked recipe.”
What a difference a generation makes. Actually, in kitchen terms, countless generations have transpired in just a few decades as items once considered esoteric have expanded kitchen shelves exponentially.
The result: Today’s pantries are truly, madly, deeply richer and fuller than 30, 20, even 10 years ago. The quantity and quality of packaged food has skyrocketed, and so has its availability. Once found only at ethnic markets and co-ops, now most grocery stores carry expansive selections.
The cupboards of enthusiastic home cooks have dozens of new and/or improved products — oils and vinegars, pastas and