Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gadgetry

First. Go read this:


Done? Good. Now.

There are two things I lust after with a fiery passion. The want ebbs and flows, but I can't kill it completely.

I want a food processor, and I want a KitchenAid.

I don't need these things. I have zero use for them and no room for them, and I know the truth of them: they're a pain to clean and keep in good condition, especially when you don't have a dishwasher. They're impractical for cooking for two people. They, like TVs, never look the same size in the showroom as they do in your home. They would languish in a cupboard.

I grew up in a home with a Cuisinart. My father could probably tell you what he used it for in detail, but the only thing I can remember him digging it out of the closet for was to make breadcrumbs, which can just as easily be made with a mallet or a rolling pin. Despite all its attachments and whirring, it was, or at least is in my memory, a unitasker.

And don't get me started on the KitchenAid - that hunk of motor wouldn't suddenly turn me into a pastry chef, it would just remind me, constantly, that I'm not one. And anyway, I happen to live with a truly fantastic baker who does things with an oven I can't even imagine being capable of. She would look at me in this scientist-y way she does and say, "Yeah. I know how to follow recipes, and you can't," and that's totally true. I can follow a recipe if I have to, but it sucks all the joy out of dinner. I would rather wing it.

Anyway. There is a truth to things kitchen-y which that article touches on but doesn't nail home: you cook the way you cook, for the people you cook for. And while it's certainly true that, over time, the way you cook changes, the reason it changes is because of what you're cooking and for whom, not because of how you're cooking it.

To pick on my father's gadget obsession for just a second more: I will never make pasta frequently enough to buy the custom ravioli molds that have lived in his kitchen drawer for decades, and if I ever did make ravioli from scratch, I'd seal their edges with a fork. The lack of ravioli molds is not the thing keeping me from making ravioli.

But. Angela got me a cast iron wok for my birthday last year and I use it all the time, weekly at least. I didn't suddenly become a stir-frying fiend once I owned a wok, I did it just as much before, just badly - my pan was too small, it tended to heat unevenly and burn, its coating was never as non-stick as it was supposed to be. Now, the stir-frying I do is better because of the tool I've got, and it's more pleasurable - cooking in a wok is about as much fun as you can have working over a stove. It's such a "me" tool, I can't now imagine a kitchen without one.

The point, I guess, is this: if you're going to add to your kitchen, find tools that supplement the way you actually work instead of tools that give you utility you'll never use, and remember that, worst-case, you can always fall back to a knife and a cutting board.

1 comment:

Christa aka The BabbyMama said...

Funny thing: We tossed a bunch of kitchen gadgets. What did we keep? Well, the three things we use the most are the Kitchenaid, the breadmaker, and the food processor (a biggun). They're also the bulkiest, oy. But it's all in what you use!