With spirits firmly switched on spring-cleaning mode, we each found enough items to build a bonfire pile — with the exception of Post food critic Tom Sietsema, who, apart from a gift collection of corkscrews, edits his kitchen tools so vigilantly that nary a stray cocktail spreader remains.
Is there a story behind every peeler? Perhaps, but we’re sharing tales of 10 items with greater vexing power.
Fish grilling basket
If any cooking gadget deserves to be called “sexy,” it’s this sleek, fish-shaped grilling basket. As lightweight as a tennis racket and as durable as a cricket bat, the tool just feels good in your hand; when you hold it, you have the sudden urge to paddle the nearest person, which probably violates at least one local health code.
As a practical piece of grilling equipment, however, the tool is mostly eye candy: great to look at but pretty much useless for everything but a whole fish that happens to fit inside the basket. Sure, I could use it for those delicate fillets that may crumble and tumble through my grill grates, but I’d rather lose an ounce or two of fish than wash one more large and unwieldy instrument in my tiny galley kitchen. And, by the way, you know how many whole fish I’ve grilled in this basket since I received it more than 10 years ago as a gift? Zero.
— Tim Carman
There once was a pan — a beautiful Analon 13-inch nonstick braising pan — that I used for almost everything. With rounded sides and a three-inch depth, it was truly the most versatile one in my kitchen.
I braised, roasted and fried in this wonder of a pan. I reached for it almost reflexively, forsaking others in its favor. But my devotion took its toll. Night after night, I cleaned the pan carefully and gently. Over time, the nonstick coating wore away. No amount of oil would keep food from sticking to the pan, nor could the pan be seasoned.
Sadly, I had to break with it and when I did, I discovered I had a wonderful wok that I could stir-fry in with ease, beautiful cast-iron braising pots that did their jobs admirably and a roasting pan that worked just fine. They aren’t the same as my one-pot wonder, but they all have one trait I’m hooked on: They can be cleaned.
— Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
Two-wheeled pastry cutter
The ravioli recipe I was making was clear: If I wanted the recipe to come out right, I was going to need this pastry cutter. So I plunked down $15 for it and came home anticipating the perfect, magazine-photo-quality pasta I was going to turn out.