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Monday, April 16, 2012

Mortar and Pestle Upgrade

We were out shopping on Bayview this weekend, and amid all the many delightful houseware and kitchenware stores, I found (among other things) a relatively cheap version of the next echelon of mortar and pestles for me.

You see, this is my 3rd.

I imagine some people might think this excessive and that I must be luxuriating in an ocean of kitchen tools and culinary products.  I mean, who could possibly need to go through so many iterations of mortar and pestles?  What could possibly have been wrong with the previous models?

Well, I'll tell you.

The first one I forget where I got it.  I think it was a kitchen store back in Edmonton... I'm pretty sure it was Le Gnome.  But it was small, and yet surprisingly cumbersome.  Definitely an entry model.  I think it was real marble, and I bought it because I always wanted one, and it looked beautiful.  What was wrong with it?  The bowl was tiny, and the pestle was just one long undifferentiated marble rod.  And also tiny.  It barely fit my hand.  In fact, as I remember using it, I recall it was so short and stubby the unfinished top of the pestle would dig into my palm as I used it.  Anyway...

This began my search for a new one.  I mean, I loved using it - it was awesome to be able to grind up herbs and spices, and I wonder what I ever did without one - but this one was not perfect.  So, amid my travels, I would come across high-end M&Ps of all sorts and sizes, but could never really justify spending close to a hundred dollars on an 'upgrade'.

Then one day - I'd say probably about 4 or 5 years ago - I was in Ikea of all places, and despite in fact NOT looking for anything kitchen related (Ikea kitchen products are some of the cheapest land-fill-destined junk our world creates), I literally stumbled upon a surprisingly decent M&P of middling quality.  And it was cheap.  For I think only about ten bucks, this newer M&P was sturdy, non-porous, solid stone with a large bowl and had a pestle with a large handle.  The pestle was still undifferentiated, but it did at least have a sort of "pommel" on the end so it was easier to grasp.

And so this one became my primary M&P for the last four or five years, although it was not perfect either.  The handle was still too small, and slightly unwieldy, and the whole thing weighed way too much.  In fact, I dropped it once in my old kitchen, and rather than breaking into bits as I feared it would in the few dozen milliseconds it took to crash to the floor, it instead smashed the tile flooring.  The M&P itself was completely unscathed.

So, I have always been on the lookout for a better one.  An upper-echelon M&P.  Yet affordable.

Well, as of last weekend, we are now on number 3.  An Emile Henry product which looks pretty, is about a tenth as heavy as the last one, and substantially better-built.  It wasn't even all that expensive, either.  

I like saying Emile Henry.  It sounds mellifluous when I pronounce it in french.  "Ay-meel-le  Ahn-rhee."  Heh heh heh.  Of course, I don't know if Emile Henry is in fact Francophone.  For all I know it's pronounced Uh-meel Henn-ree.  :D

In any case, this one, this third round of M&Ps is definitely an upgrade for me.  It's very smooth, and non-porous, so it doesn't get gunky inside, and the pestle is very light, yet long and easily-held.  So far I like it.