Of all the phrases in the culinary lexicon, the words "available in any market" and "available everywhere" strike the most fear in my heart. Why? Because the celebrity chefs who speak them seem to think that New York, Chicago, and LA constitute the entire country.
It's not just celebrity chefs who suffer from this syndrome. A recent discussion at the cookbook forum revolved around the same issue---recipes supposedly aimed at the general American public which called for strange, hard-to-find, and unavailable ingredients.
The fact is, for many---perhaps most---of us, ingredients are the hardest things to locate. What may be commonly sold in New York is irrelevent, because it's a special ingredient if you live in, say, Salt Lake City. Or, to put a point on it, "everywhere" doesn't include Richmond, KY.
I was wondering, therefore: If you had a choice, what missing-in-action ingredients would you like to see available locally that aren't?
For me there's a long list. And it changes frequently, because I do such diverse cooking and recipe testing. But high up are the various specialty peppers: Aleppo, for instance, and Piment d'Espelette. The fact is, even sechuan peppercorns are unavailable locally, and I have to search long and hard for ancho chili powder.
Another group would be seafood. Although it's certainly better now than in the past, most fresh (or even FAS) seafood, taken for granted in the coastal cities, is MIA in central Kentucky. I would love to try grilling fresh sardines, for instance. But I've never seen one, let alone been able to toss it on the barbie. Striped bass are available only because I catch my own from our lakes. But nonanglers have to do without; as they do with most shellfish and finned fish.
Then there are......well, enough of my desires. What "available everywhere" ingredients do you most miss?