Some of the world's greatest cuisines have been created with very few kitchen tools. With only a cleaver and chopsticks the Chinese managed to develop a magnificent series of dishes, and there are people who can do all their food preparation with one good knife. I am not one of those.

Today shops are filled with hundreds of little kitchen tools rudely referred to as "gadgets"-a rather undignified title for such useful objects-and everyone I know seems to have a drawer overflowing with them.

Over the years, two of these tools have stood out as superbly useful and, even at today's prices, very inexpensive.

First is the citrus shell cutter ($2.95). This 5 1/4 inch strip of stainless steel, shaped like a miniature ski with a tiny metla box on the underside, is designed to remove the peel from citrus fruits in two perfectly intact halves. The tiny cutting box peels away a narrow strip of skin to form an equator around a lemon, orange or grapefruit. Then the slightly curved edge is inserted between the peel and the fruit, gently teasing them apart, and before you know it, an intact half can be removed.

Afterward, you can fill a lemon peel with an ice or a sherbet and sreve it on a bed of lemon leaves from the florist. Or you can spoon balls of valnilla ice cream and orange sherbet into orange halves, forming your very own Creamsicles. This simple well-made tool performs one of life's less essential tasks perfectly.

Another is the tiny juice extractor, which costs about $1.50 and is dynamite. Insert the sharp end of the cast-aluminum tube into a lemon (or lime or orange) and squeeze.A few drops will arrive neatly, without seeds or pulp, and without destroying the entire lemon. When you have enough juice, replace the lemon, still containing the extractor, in the refrigerator to use as you need. Because the peel is barely touched, the juice inside will not dry out for weeks. CAPTION: Picture, no caption