I was thinking back to an English class during my time in Sixth Form, when we were discussing kitchen utensils. It was a medieval recipe which required a host of utensils – almost longer than the ingredients list – which sparked the discussion. The open question was: ‘do you need all these utensils to be a successful cook?’
My answer was, and still remains a stoic ‘no’. But there was at least one person who felt that yes, with all the bain-maries, boning knives, jam spoons and twizzling noodle forks, you could become the next Michel Roux. I have paraphrased (and possibly exaggerated) what she said at the time, but you only need a bit of common sense to know that a fork is as good as a whisk, and a paring knife will chop up most things from cheese to salami to broccoli. Scissors make a more than adequate pizza cutter when times are really tough, and all these ‘shortcuts’ can also save a LOT of washing up.
In my opinion (as I am always ready to offer), what makes a good chef is down to what you can make out of very little. Growing up with parents who are ‘creative chefs’, I learnt there was little need to rely on recipes, and observed many a night when there was nothing to eat, them somehow producing a different and very tasty meal out of leftover food and tins found at the back of the cupboard, none of which required a fork and a microwave, I may add. Obviously I won’t be giving up my electronic milk frother anytime soon in place of a fork, but I am trying to highlight the fact that you don’t need a kitchen filled with every pointless accessory in the world, from egg cutters, banana slicers, strawberry stem removers, avocado scoopers, meat mallets and asparagus peelers (I mean, really?) to cook delicious home-made food from scratch.
Whilst I admit there is a distinction between having the knowledge and skill to create meals or recreate recipes in the first place, and the requirement of particular utensils to achieve the desired effect – such as a griddle pan – generally, I believe you do not need much to be a successful cook. The additional items might make a task easier or less mundane, but they are only a ‘helping hand’ and cannot help you achieve more than you are capable of.
This is coming from me who, during the first few weeks au-pairing in Paris, had to mash enough potatoes for five people with a bendy fork and make cakes without scales or mixing bowls – I think I settled for a salad spinner.
the crazy happenings in my life