Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Tagines, etc, are crushing us to death

Plutarch was recently in his local Lakeland shop (predominantly kitchen equipment) while I’m flipping through the catalogue. A fanciful thought arises. Lakeland is not supplying the kitchen it’s in competition with it.

For the first time ever the BBs have a sufficiency of work surfaces in the kitchen (the above isn't ours, I fear) but Lakeland seeks to make us uncomfortable again. Much of the equipment represents options (different sets of pans, mixers, knives, etc) but suppose in a moment of madness we decided to acquire one item from every category: a pasta maker (with a lasagne attachment), a wooden gripper board, a garlic press, a granite pestle and mortar, a cast-iron trivet, and so on.

Very quickly all that delicious open space would run out but that wouldn’t be an end to the matter. Problems of memory and location would emerge, I’m about to handle toast so hand me my magnetic toast tongs; I’ve done that and now I need my StemGem to hull some strawberries. Tiny tasks each with a specific tool,

How many items of equipment does a competent kitchen need? How many bought, now moulder? Answers by email.

THE LOVE PROBLEM Just finished Ch. 4 (5688 words) taking the total up to 22,549 words. Again a child has entered the story as in Gorgon Times, yet I confess children are not an instinctive subject for me. There may be a subconscious reason. Half of GT was a woman’s story and all TLP is. A story about a woman, whether she is a mother or not, seems incomplete without this reference. Or am I now anticipating a feminist thunderbolt? GT went to the agent in early January and is still there.


Anne said...

Every now and then, when rummaging through a kitchen drawer, I run across one of those gadgets that I must have once thought I would enjoy having. I not only forgot where it was kept, I forgot I even ever had it. The function of catalogs is to convince you that you need things you never thought of.

I think it is brave of you to write from a woman's point of view. Have you read Mating by Norman Rush? I thought that was a real exercise in a male writer getting inside a woman's skin. Not always successfully but an interesting work just the same.

Sir Hugh said...

I have a redundant glass shelf from my fridge stored vertically in a cupboard, and every time I open the door the dammed thing falls over with a crash, but I can't bring myself to throw it away.

Relucent Reader said...

I gave the missus a KitchenAid mixer years ago. She used it for her midnight baking frenzies; alas,she no longer has them. I made matters worse by purchasing the pasta maker attachment ayear or so ago. Amount of pasta made: niente.

Plutarch said...

It strikes me as a good idea to start from scratch. You are on a desert island. You have an improvised grill or griddle, a pot, a trivet, a frying pan, and a hole in the ground in which to put hot stones in place of an oven. A knife, a long handled fork and a long handled soon.That would do I I suppose.

Hattie said...

That kitchen is really intimidating with all those slick, shiny surfaces. I find it rather off-putting.
But maybe when it gets dirty you can just pressure-wash the whole place.

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh! Could I ever brew ale in such a kitchen! Lots of space and room to store brewing equipment. I've resisted the urge to purchase special beer gadgets. I brew with a cauldron, a spoon, a stainless teaball for the hops, a strainer, a digital timer, and a thermometer. That's it. Well, except for the scale to measure the hops. Now that I think about it though, all of this brewing paraphernalia is basic kitchen equipment. Not much more is needed for fermentation. Now that I look around my kitchen, the fanciest thing I have are bamboo toast tongs.

Barrett Bonden said...

Anne: Memory is the limiting factor with gadgety utensils. If you bodged a job for 20 or 30 years and then bought a special tool which is said to do the job perfectly the problem will be to rid yourself of the inbuilt tendency to bodge.

I feel impelled to write novels with a woman as the central character. I could say that women are more interesting but I supppose that goes without saying given I'm from the other side of the fence.

Sir Hugh. Time to Photoshop yourself a picture that occupies the same amount of space as the glass shelf. Then you'll be halfway towards creating yourself a frame.

RR: That's a pretty good mini (no micro, no nano) short story.

Plutarch: Happy as a sandboy until the tide washes up the latest Lakeland catalogue.

Hattie: I took it from Google Images. There's no proof it belongs to anyone and if it does, there's no further proof it's ever been used.

RW (zS): You were on the side of the angels until you came up with the bamboo toast tongs. What possessed you...?

Lucy said...

But did you ever sample the joys of Vitrine Magique? Gives the lie to any notion that the French have more style, at least where catalogues full of dust-collecting surface-hogging useless items of brittle and ugly kitchenalia are concerned.

Bamboo tongs are just great though, one of the things I wouldn't be without. Trouble is they wear out and unravel (they are tied together only with string) and are quite hard to come by, so I may have to be without them. The other thing I love is the potato ricer.

The most pointless thing I possess is a tool for cutting spirals out of the inside of cylindrical vegetables. I bought it at an exhibition of craft items, being beguiled by the idea of spiral rosettes of saute potato. I may confess to it publicly and start off a meme some time, with pictures. Actually, come to think, even more pointless is a thing for hollowing out the insides of other fruit and veg to the exact dimensions of a nightlight, to make an attractive luminous centrepiece with said mutilated and withering fruit. Someone sent me that though.

I do like Lakeland's little compost bins with the charcoal filters in the lid.

The Crow said...

Wow! What a kitchen - does it come complete with staff?

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: My belief in French chic began to collapse as we started to look for furniture for the Drefféac house. Everything got knobblier and knobblier and I eventually had to resort to a roof-rack and CKD kits from Ikea. I remember in particular searching out a dining room table. The saleswoman, who had padded shoulders that looked like horns, pointed to one table and said, shrugging, C'est massif. This was self-evidently true.

I'll take your word (and Rouchswalwe's) on bamboo tongs but Mrs BB long ago made me aware of potato ricers, even though she was never able to explain their inner-ness. Your fascination with vegetable spirals surely deserves psycho-analysis especially since it seems it has not been truly resolved.

The Crow: Paradise is sufficient work-space in a kitchen. To my knowledge it has never been completely achieved though this abattoir-resembling design may have come close.

DuchessOmnium said...

Ah, I thought the tagine problem was going to be a metaphor for all the current ills of North Africa. I am so glad to find it more quotidian, though I don't suppose a kitchen rethink, let alone redesign, is an every day problem.

On the boat I do still cook, but I don't have many gadgets. A plastic funnel (stolen from the engine room, not the kitchen), now is a high tech barricade to prevent the rats scaling the pole to the bird feeder.

I have a meat thermometer, something to recork the wine, a few sharp knives and some bamboo spoons and a wire whisk for frothing the milk.

Barrett Bonden said...

"And they went to sea in a tagine..."

I didn't milk the word as much as I should. I remember the bird table protector but you don't mention any on your mooring ropes. Probably futile. Rats could probably jump. Or swim, then do a James Bond by creeping up your... No, as the Americans say, that's too gross to contemplate.

Whereas the meat thermometer reveals you're on the side of the angles, the wine recorker quickly sends you into purgatory. As my father (a great premier cru man) said when informed that the restaurant's cellar had half-bottles: "Why?" Definitely undermines the slightly piratical - no, louche's better - air you seek to generate.

Sazji said...

Hey, I will gladly adopt any orphaned tagines! You can keep the turnip twaddler though. :)