Friday, January 4, 2013

Kitchen Gadgets

On a couple of occasions when we lived in DC I found myself stuck in the midst of a home improvement project. A trip to Strosniders or a visit from an expert usually revealed the existence of a hitherto unknown tool that was perfect for the job. The problem is that my "seat wrench" for example, hasn't been used in over a decade, and the acquisition of these bespoke tools on an "as needed" basis, in addition to being a poor investment, has space and storage constraints. This is equally true in the kitchen, and, atypically, I love kitchen gadgets considerably more than power tools.

About ten years ago, we were having lunch in the pretty town of Port Townsend, WA. The BG was napping in her stroller, so, while Worldwide finished her sandwich. the OG and I visited a kitchen store across the street. I was admiring a "turkey lifter," a sort of double-fork contraption designed for lifting big birds out of the roasting pan. Seeing me admiring the tool, the sales clerk came over to offer assistance: "That is a great tool for lifting turkeys." she said. "Yes." I replied, "but I'm not sure how often I'd have need of it."

"It is a bit of a unitasker." she admitted. For awhile thereafter, the OG was keenly interested in identifying single-use tools in the kitchen, and I became mindful of their actual necessity. A coffee maker and popcorn popper? OK. But a melon baller? C'mon.

The thing is that, despite myself, I still love those unitaskers, and this year, I hit on the perfect compromise: if I get them as gifts, I get to have them free of the guilt that accompanies their purchase.

So, mindful of my wishlist this year, the Gs went into our local Williams Sonoma and asked an associate where they could find unitaskers. Apparently the clerk initially claimed that the store didn't stock such things, or that he didn't understand what the girls were talking about,  but after a consultation with a co-worker, he led them over to an Aladdin's cave of garlic presses, shrimp deveiners, mango slicers and the like. After careful consideration, the Gs selected a strawberry huller, which I was delighted to find under the tree, and even more delighted to use as I packed their lunches this morning. So unnecessary, but so much better than my previous methods, usually a paring knife or a plastic straw .

The bottom line is that a unitasker should be something that you need frequently in order to merit a place in the cupboard; but it's so much fun to contemplate the depths of human ingenuity, and to know that should the need for a cherry pitter arise...

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