I hear you ask. And here I answer.

Cupboard cuisine is what I call the meals that you just kind of throw together out of what you happen to have in the cupboard (or in the fridge, or on the shelves) when you haven’t really got anything out of which to make a proper meal. Or else you just can’t be bothered with proper cooking. Actually, I don’t really like “proper cooking”. I like cupboard cuisine much better.

The guiding principle of this culinary art is, first and foremost, that it must be quick and easy to make. It is made out of imagination, experience, spontaneity, and necessity*. You don’t reach for your recipe book, you just get your spoon, stir it in, and hope it works.

* which is, as I’m sure you recall, the mother of all invention.

Another important element is the kind of ingredients used. Cupboard cuisine is made, on the whole, out of real food rather than ready-made muck. The ingredients are a combination of staples and odds-and-ends. By “staples” I mean the items that every kitchen should have in stock – eggs, garlic, pasta, spices, onions, honey, and so on and on. By “odds-and-ends” I mean the sort of thing that you have lying around the kitchen when you’ve eaten all the good stuff and you haven’t been shoppping yet to get any more. Leftovers, the last knockings of a jar of something, some vegetables that really need using up, or the last lonely chunk of a ham you cooked several days ago.

Yes, it does seem daft to write down recipes for meals whose very essence and joy lies in their unrepeatable spontaneity, even in their un-written-down-ness.

But I want to, so I’m going to. How else could I capture the pleasure of something like Sticky Mushrooms? A random-seeming choice of ingredients, something like George’s Marvellous Medicine. It could have been horrible, but it wasn’t. It was Cupboard Cuisine!

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