When I was little, my grandmother was the only person I knew to have a pantry. It was a tiny, doorless closet to the right of her oven, and it always smelled faintly of fresh tomatoes and onions from her garden. This year marks ten years since her passing, and longer still since the passing of her cooking days, but even today whenever I read the word "pantry," I can see the neat stack of Crisco, and feel myself flipping through the little plastic file of Kool-aid that she kept for my cousins and me.
I've got my own pantry now. We recently bought our first home, a "century home," built in 1911. The house offers a stunning lack of storage space, but the previous owners helpfully closed up a corner of the dining room and installed custom shelving and drawers. It's a wonder of modern engineering and displays a House-of-Leaves-esque ability to accept the infinite boxes and cans I try to cram in there.
"Pantry" is an early-fourteenth-century word, coming from the Latin "panataria," meaning "the office or room of the servant who has charge of food (bread)." In the late middle ages, enough care and concern was given to the various stages and elements of food production that separate areas were kept for the storage and preparation of bread (pantry), meats (larder), and booze (buttery). If you were lucky enough, you had one particular person on your staff who controlled the pantry: the pantler. If you are having suspicions about the origin of the word "butler," you are on the right track!