When I confessed that I was finally ready to mail order cooking and baking supplies, Nancy Leson pretended to be surprised.
"What?" she gasped. "You don't sit online all day and order things?"
I've always avoided shopping cooking ingredients by mail because, just like the electric car I'd love to have, I could never get it to make any economic sense. The for-instance I gave Nancy was first clear flour, unobtainable in stores around here. It's traditional in old school New York deli rye. But at $9 plus shipping for three pounds, I just couldn't bring myself to order it.
Besides, I've been baking those loaves for many a year using supermarket flours and they come out fine. Still, I've always wondered if maybe they'd be even better if I used the real deal first clear. And then I had an epiphany: I'm going to be dead for a long time.
Cooking and baking are my only hobbies. So why not blow a few bucks on some fun to have ingredients? Besides, there are hundreds of mail-order food companies. If I am being extravagant I'll have plenty of company.
The first clear flour I ordered from New York Bakers has arrived. I'll try it out in this weekend's deli rye. And now the mail order floodgates are open. What about that Benton's Bacon from Tennessee that David Chang raves about? Should I try the gen-u-wine real deal Old South grits, ground under a mule-drawn millstone? And can I resist that resurrected heirloom rice, Charleston Gold?
But still, I quibble. Sure, all that stuff probably is pretty good. But is it that much better than what you can buy in the store? Could anything be that much better? Would it be worth it? Or would I just be a big fat sucker wasting money on what amounts to an insupportable luxury? Nancy and I aim to find out.
I'm ordering the Charleston Gold rice and she's getting the Benton's bacon. We'll share a little of each, cook it up, pound it down, and report back to you.
Meanwhile what do you think is so good it's worth mail ordering? And what would you love to get but just can't justify? Enquiring eaters want to know.
"The whole point of extravagance is to act like a fool and feel like a fool, but enjoy it." – Alfred Bester, from "The Stars My Destination"