It’s that time of year again. Catalogs bombard the mailslot like heavy artillery. William Sonoma, Harry & David, Swiss Colony, Chef’s Catalog, Walnut Acres Organic Farms, Hickory Farms, Omaha Steaks, Stonewall Kitchen, Sur la Table, Zingerman’s. If you’ve got a foodie on your holiday shopping list, your fingers are probably itching to enter that www or dial that 1-800. Halt! It’s time we cooks came clean…
THE TRUE FATE OF LAST YEAR’S PRESENTS
Gift: Perfect Pasta Timer
Comment: I’ve already got a fail-safe method for testing pasta. It’s called my mouth.
Final resting place: Straight to the clutter drawer, where it can commiserate with the other abandoned kitchen gadgets—Miss Melon Baller, Mr. Meat Thermometer, Ms. Pizza Wheel, Madam Apple Corer and Lemon-Zester-chan.
Gift: 18″ Paella Pan
Comment: OMG, this thing is huge. You must be suffering from kitchen dysmorphic disorder. Where the @$#? am I going to keep it? And more to the point, why would I want to waste valuable kitchen real estate on something I’m going to use once or twice a year?
Final resting place: Behind the outgrown kids’ bikes in the basement. I’ll just haul it upstairs when YOU come over…
Gift: Yum-O! The Family Cookbook (hardcover)
Comment: I appreciate what Rachel Ray does, I really, really do. She makes a from-scratch dinner possible and even fun for millions of time-pressed Americans. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, I actually like to cook. (And on the days that I’m not in the mood, my husband gets take-out or does frozen and, know what?, that’s totally okay.) In fact, the part I like best is inventing new dishes and re-interpreting old ones. Every now and then I do read a cookbook. (Usually something along the lines of Sephardic Cooking or the 1878 Gulf City Cook Book.) In bed, with a cocktail, as if it were a novel. Then I never open it again.
Final resting place: Gathering dust between The Three Ingredient Cookbook and Maple Syrup Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
Gift: Tower Full of Joys
Comment: Hear that? It’s the sound of molars and premolars being gnashed together. I spent hours roasting cauliflower florets, green beans and eggplant disks and reducing shallots and thyme to nibble on before my delicious but admittedly somewhat saturated-fat heavy dinner of roast beef, garlic potatoes, salad and chocolate mousse (salmonella be damned!). Now I’ll have to sideline my healthy and artistically heaped platter to pass around some nitrite-laced sausages, orange cheese with a nuclear melting point and “Incredible Spreadables®,” whatever the hell those are.
Final resting place: Your hips, sucka! I’m noshing my own hors d’oeuvres in here.
We know you mean well. But unless we sent you a link, dropped a major hint (“Boy, I could really use a .9 quart Mauviel copper saucepan, only $114.95″), or have an obvious collection (yeah, I’ve already got a half dozen 50s aprons, but they’re so darn cute), please refrain from getting us anything kitchen-related. Because we cooks are fussy. Oh. So. Fussy. And until you’ve spent hours in front of our stoves, you’re not going to understand why we prefer a motley assortment of iron, copper and stainless steel pots to a matching set from All-Clad. (How decorative, darling! *shudder*) Or why we hate the beefy silicone spatula you bought. (A flimsy, cheap-ass one is best for prying the cookee from the cooker.) And don’t even get me started on the spillage that happens when you’re a left-handed cook wielding a right-handed ladle. It may not look that way, but everything is exactly how we want it. So if you’re casting about for present ideas, why not consider something a little less intimate, say a custom-fitted foundation garment?
(Oh, and those gift baskets? Just don’t.)
Wondering what we would like? Thought you’d never ask!
NEVER FAIL GIFTS FOR COOKS
- Wine, fine chocolate and quirky, tasty things you pick out yourself
- Two places (one for each of us) in food or drink-related classes or events
- A good nonfiction book, food literature, or a recipe collection by someone with a unique world view