Your Hands: The Best Kitchen Tool, Hands Down

(James M. Thresher - For The Washington Post)
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

As the "camp cook" this past Memorial Day, I was offered a burger press for my Mediterranean lamb burgers.

"No thanks," I mumbled. Raising my hands, I retorted, "I use these," pondering why I'd pack a metal thingy to do what my hands love to do: play with food.

Come summer, my hands will run gingerly over blanched peaches, slipping their skins off; my fingertips will blend shortening and flour, toss peaches with sugar, and crimp pastry when gentleness is crucial and unrestrained pie-making joy is at stake.

These hands are my most prized kitchen equipment, the tools I'm most grateful for, and for which I've paid nothing. They peel, tear, mash, squeeze, blend -- heck, they even wash, dry and put away -- and I never misplace them.

Why use a bread machine when you can knead? A dishwasher when you can scrub, a mixer when your hands can mix just fine, a citrus juicer when your fingers can catch every seed? You've much to lose besides kilowatt-hours when you forgo your hands -- like the direct connection of touch, sinew and soul.

Using a kitchen gadget when fingertips, palms or fists will do is a criminal act, one that robs us of the joy of our senses and a connection with our food. Without those things, why do we cook at all?

-- Laurie V. Soileau, freelance writer

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