Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Don't Be a Kitchen Tool

Thoreau wrote that "Men have become the tools of their tools." Though written 154 years ago and 6.91 miles from where I now sit (thanks, mapquest), his words could not ring more true today. Well, maybe if you replaced "men" with "people."

Regardless, the quotation applies nowhere more so than in the kitchen.

On the hunt for a pepper grinder, I recently found myself at a Bed, Bath and Beyond. How was it? Beyond bad, Beth.

Despite the fact that their stores have the product biodiversity of a rainforest, in the pepper grinder department there was nothing between spaceship and Cracker Barrel. I declined, but before I left, I looked up at the floor to ceiling walls of kitchen items and thought "What is all of this sh*t?"

My kitchen is barren. We have a wooden cutting board, a few dull knives, flimsy pots, and we eat like kings. Or, to contemporize the phrase, like a pair of gender neutral royalty.

Our focus is on the food, not the tools, though I could see how it's easy to confuse the two given that both have an "oo" in the middle.

I'm aghast at how many new gadgets and doodads come out every year despite the fact that they are utterly worthless, though very costly to both you and the planet. To use the Pollan approach, I suggest not buying anything that your great grandmother wouldn't recognize. Or before you do, ask yourself this question: "Do I really need the universe to have created this?"

I would think that simple check would prevent many an octodog or can of pancake spray from coming into existence.

Ironically, by turning a hot dog into an octopus, it actually makes it more like food.


Thanks to The Green Head for the pic.

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Laura Kelley said...

I couldn't agree more!

It's not about the gadetry, its about the food.

In the old days I was often asked what sort of camera I used (as if it mattered). The answer remains then as now for everyday work the Pentax K-1000. But the answer, of course, was irrelevant because the photograph was the unique chemistry of the action and the photographer at the moment in time.

So cooking is the capture of a moment in time bewteen the chef and the food.

A well-cleaned coffee grinder works for most kitchen grinding - or if you are a purist a mortar and pestle.

Grind on!

Carol said...

I so agree but as I do love pretty things so I like to get used kitchen equipment from thrift stores, try it out for a while, realize I don't need it, and give it to goodwill. These things have included a clay pot and electric crepe maker named m'sieur le crepe. The "pretty things" justification didn't apply to m'sieur, but he was fun for a while. I think the only moderately useful kitchen gadget of the last ten years is that little butane torch guy. can do so much more than brulee le creme. ofcourse so can an actual torch, i suppose.

Brendan said...

On a somewhat related time I visit my mom I'm going to abscond with the steel frying pan. Apparently it's the only one left in America that isn't coated with something (presumably) carcinogenic. Who made the decision that we have to sautee on Teflon? I have cast iron skillets for skillet duty, but when you're making pancakes or an omelette, a nice flat pan makes a difference.

jane said...

I agree about not overloading on the gadgets but if your description of your kitchen is true you might find use for a knife sharpener- nothing makes food prep easy like a sharp knife. And they are much safer.

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