When those laughable kitchen tools have a purpose

Guest post by Dina

Avocado slicerWhen I was growing up, my mother trusted me with knives. I remember being allowed to cut mushrooms (my faaaavorite!) with a paring knife when I was five. As an adult, one thing I do (mostly) well in the kitchen is cutting stuff. I know my way around a chef’s knife pretty darn well, if I say so myself.

The other half and I have long made a game of ridiculing silly kitchen tools we see at the shopping mall. My favorite is the thing you use to cut avocados — you still have to cut the avocado in half with a knife to use it.

The thing about most of those tools is they take more work than actually getting out the stupid knife and just cutting the damn produce, especially when you take cleaning into account. Why use something specialized when a simple solution exists that you can use for many things?

Refrigerator Pickles - Slicing Onions

But recently, the other half decided she wanted to buy a mandoline. After a brief discussion in the cooking store about whether or not this was a good idea, we bought it. I doubted very much it would actually get used.

And I was partly right, because aside from slicing a fennel bulb, I haven’t used it at all. My other half, however, has used it a lot. She uses it to cut vegetables for soup, to chop onions (“This way I don’t have to cry over them!”) — you name it.

This whole experience made me rethink my philosophy. I’ve come to realize that if it takes a mandoline to make someone excited to cook, well… why not? It reminds me of something I once saw in my brother’s Middle Eastern cookbook. According to this book, a food processor was a vital tool for making Middle Eastern food. The author said that, yes, you could make just about anything in the book with a mortar and pestle or what-have-you, but if people in Egypt a thousand years ago had food processors, you’d better believe they would have used them!

So I guess I’ll give my other half a free pass with the mandoline, so long as she doesn’t make me use it. But I’ll still laugh at you if you have a device that only cuts avocados.

Comments on When those laughable kitchen tools have a purpose

  1. I would happily buy me a unitasking machine if it would just make be perfect carrot sticks for chomping on without me almost chopping my fingers on an almost daily basis – anyone got any ideas?

  2. That’s my mandoline in the photo above – my brother got it for me as a gift and it’s been a life saver, especially for those pickles (which are SO good – I made them for a party once and now I’ve got a long list of friends who want them whenever I make them and it takes about 15 min. total with that thing). It’s also great for those really thin matchstick julienne salads that I would never make otherwise and lots of Korean cooking, where you need to slice things evenly to cook well.

  3. What? Kitchen tool snobbery? I have one of those silly little avocado slicers and I use it almost every day. I love it! Go ahead and shun me from the Cool Kids Kitchen Club, I won’t be lonely.

  4. I *HATE* my mandolin. I have never felt so dumb for buying something. I got one free, years ago…hated it because you have to cut by hand all the huge pieces the mandolin doesn’t get to anyway…gave it away, forgot…bought a new one. Ugh.

  5. I’ve got so many of those gadgets. Love them. I don’t have the avocado slicers because I can’t eat avocados or I’d have one!!
    Laugh all you like!! Joy in the kitchen is what it’s all about!! 🙂
    And you should see the sh*t I have for baking!!! 🙂

  6. I have both an avocado slicer and a mango seeder. I live in CA where both are abundant and delicious for several months a year and I partake of both in excessive amounts. That’s how I justify the space they take up in my single utensil drawer in my kitchen. In fact, I’m going to the farmer’s market on Saturday to buy more of both.

  7. only unitask item I will allow in our *tiny* kitchen is a toaster because we use it every day. Everything must have more than three uses to be allowed

  8. I love my kitchen gadgets including my mandolin (I use it mostly for slicing cucumbers to the perfect size for dipping into hummus). But I surprisingly love my rotary cheese grater: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=12949758

    Granted, I have not found another use for this cheese grater, but it makes grating cheese so much easier and safer than a traditional grater. Perfect to top salads, integrate into mac n’ cheese, or layer onto pizza. Sure you can buy the pre-shredded stuff, but we’re Costco people and love our bricks o’cheese.

  9. I actually make that cucumber & onion salad in the picture at least weekly! I cook & pack a whole week’s worth of food for my partner who travels for work, and four cucumbers and onions in, I’m really wishing for a mandoline.

  10. I miss the tomato slicer we had when I was working at Subway. The bad thing is it would almost never get used if I had it in my house. It was so much fun to play with as long as you didn’t get your fingers to close to the blades.

  11. I bought an apple corer/slicer and yes, it’s not that hard to chop an an apple on your own and it’s annoying to store, but here’s the thing: I really am that lazy and I have trouble making myself eat fruits and vegetables. The apple slicer turned me from a person who almost NEVER apple slices unless someone else made them for me to someone who will eat a plate of apple slices and peanut butter or crackers & cheese instead of a bunch of cookies for a snack. Not always, but way more often than never.

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