Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Other Pepper Mill is a Whisk

One of the reasons my kitchen implements are so crude is that I believe that much can be done with very little. Another reason is that, like Konstantin Dmitrich Levin and ice skating, "I wanted to achieve perfection."

I won't buy a good knife until I decide which knife is the right knife, and in the meantime I'm still using an un-honed garage sale find with the sharpness of a spoon. By holding out for something better, I'm sticking with something bad. That same stubborn hesitation has left me without a peppermill for years.

For a while I used my (awful) knife to crush peppercorns as one reader suggested. When I first heard of cracking pepper with a knife, I didn't believe it could be worth the effort. In the hierarchy of pepper, I thought that anything that didn't come pre-ground was tops, and that a knife could not improve on a peppermill. Otherwise, waiters at fancy restaurants would walk around with kitchen knives instead of grinders.

Little did I realize that freshly milled pepper and freshly bashed pepper are almost as different as freshly milled pepper and the limp, pre-ground pepper languishing on supermarket shelves around the world. If milled pepper is dust, then cracked pepper is... never mind, milled pepper is just dust.

Using the side of the knife to bludgeon peppercorns was an improvement on using a mill, but it still wasn't jumping off the ice from the steps. So I cast about my kitchen for the right implement, and somehow I landed on the whisk. I can't remember how I made the connection, but the butt end of the whisk is the PERFECT tool for crushing a peppercorn, and I'll never use anything else.

It has the right weight, the indentation is the perfect depth to contain and smash the pepper, and the little bit of lip on the bottom ensures that nary a piece of pepper escapes your wrath. The fallout from the impact also tends to make a perfect circle, looking like a tiny, spicy galaxy.

Heck, maybe god wanted to make our universe out of something better, but you've got to use what you have.

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Laura [What I Like] said...

I think we have quite a bit in common...too hold off on buying things for ages. But might I suggest a mortar and pestle? Seems less prone to disaster (and I've had my fair share of those...when I was trying to crack a coconut for instance and ended up just smashing it on the floor out of frustration. It cracked, oh did it crack, and my floor was covered with coconut water)

Anonymous said...

I say go with a mortar and pestle, too. I use mine to crush coffee beans when the power is out, and the subtle spice of previously crushed peppercorns is irresistible. "French roast with a subtle bite of black pepper?"

Dave said...

this is karen not dave. I will buy you a mortar and pestle when we get to Boston.

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