Bon Appetit just published a list of go-to brand names: Heinz kechup, Barilla pasta, Philadelphia cream cheese, Domino (or C&H) sugar, Hellman's (or Best Foods) mayonnaise, San Marzano (the brand) tomatoes, Organic Valley butter, Fage Greek yoghurt, Maldon sea salt, Rancho Gordo beans, King Arthur flour, Red Boat fish sauce. What do you think? I use most of them, and the only one not on my radar was the butter
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Allison's cookbook is really quite nice and a wonderful showcase for all her products.
For fish sauce--I get the one with the three crabs on the label from the Asian store.
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I think lists like this can serve as a good starting point for the inexperienced. For example, someone buying fish sauce for the first time could do a whole lot worse than Red Boat. But is it "the" best?
Having been brought up on it, I agree Heinz ketchup can't be beat, but someone raised on Hunts will likely have a different opinion. And speaking of Hunts, I'll take their tomatoes over San Marzano -- especially if I'm the one who's paying the bill.
As for sugar, it would behoove you not to bring Domino into this California / Hawaiian household -- but at least they're both cane sugars so you *might* be forgiven. You'd be given more leeway regarding King Arthur as it is inarguably good, consistent flour -- but better than Gold Medal?
I notice they didn't try to settle the Coke vs. Pepsi debate...
Well, yes and no. When it comes time to make a sandwich at home or add a dollop atop some quickly steamed broccoli, it's all about convenience. Thanks to calcium disodium ethylene diamine tetraacetate, the Best Foods is always fresh and ready at hand.
Kewpie brand Japanese mayo for some things. It's really good on fries.