What’s in your pandemic pantry? These staples turn home cooking into cuisine

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

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The 2020 edition of Washoku World Challenge, the world-leading Japanese cuisine contest organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, is delighted to announce the six finalists of this year’s prestigious annual competition. They are:


Ms. Naumi CARVAJAL UEMURA (Uemura, Spain)

Mr. Man Fong HO (Edo Japanese Restaurant, Macau)

Mr. Alex KIM (Takibi (Snow Peak, Inc.), U.S.A)

Mr. Basanta Bantawa RAI (Katsuya by Starck, U.A.E)

Mr. Chih-Fan TSAI (Shinyeh Japanese Buffet, Taiwan)

Mr. Luis Fernando YSCAVA (Hidden By 2nd Floor, Brazil)


The six finalists have triumphed in a particularly unusual year that saw Washoku World Challenge move online for the very first time, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing record numbers of people to the competition.


Of the 199 applicants, from 41 different countries and regions,

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Head on down to the Bayou at Lil’ Bit of NOLA in Ghent for traditional New Orleans cuisine

NORFOLK, Va. – Violet, gold and green reign supreme inside a Lil’ Bit of NOLA in Norfolk’s Ghent neighborhood.

“There are beads on the wall you can take with you when you come by,” said General Manager Mark Conway.

The music, the masks and of course, the smell of jambalaya and shrimp Po-boys quickly pull you in, where every day is Mardi Gras inside this Louisiana lounge.

“We serve traditional dishes with a touch of this area and New Orleans,” said Conway.

The food is mouth-watering: From beignets, to gumbo, to Creole empanadas and more.

“We just have so much fun with the flavors,” said Conway.

This is the second Lil’ Bit of NOLA location. Their Kempsville location has been open since late 2019.

“COVID has presented all new challenges,” said Conway. “None of us had a pandemic chapter in [our] ‘how to run a restaurant’ playbook.”

So, they decided

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