Cultures of cooking utensils

cheese.jpgIt always amazes me what is considered an essential cooking item in some countries and what is not.

My Italian brother went backpacking through Ireland as a teenager and I will never forget how disgusted he was when he realised that the youth hostels he was staying in did not have a pasta strainer! Norwegian friends of mine just cannot get their heads around the fact that I do not own a cheese slicer, and my English friends are forever trying to find my potato masher in my cupboard when they stay with us. I do not understand how anyone could survive without a salad spinner, which is completely essential in my opinion!

I guess what we use in the kitchen reflects the way we eat and we are all pretty convinced that our national culinary delights and way of eating are the best in the world. In a time when you see Starbucks appearing on every corner in Paris and every other major city in the world, it is nice to see that we are still fighting for our own cultural identity, even if it is only in the kitchen!

(By the way, I would love to hear about other cooking utensils used in other countries…)

– Emilie

9 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Courtney | November 19, 2008 | Reply

It’s so true. I can’t imagine cooking without my set of teaspoons & tablespoons and measuring cups. But I remember baking in Esther’s house one time and I asked her about a teaspoon and she pulled out a regular spoon (which I’m sure works just as well). I was shocked how anyone can bake without an exact measuring spoon!

Also, I can’t live without my rubber spatulas, which are difficult to find here in London!

2. Esther | November 19, 2008 | Reply

I really don’t get it if people don’t have a cheese slicer (I thought that was a typical Dutch thing? How great the Norwegians have it too! Clever people!).
I do own measuring cups and spoons now (if only for Courtney), but still mostly use my scale for baking (which Court does not own).
Michela has the most beautiful cooking items (parmesan slicers amongst them of course) – but she doesn’t own a cheese slicer.
I also love my salad spinner, by the way!
And I don’t have an electric kettle – I boil water on the stove!

3. Michela | November 19, 2008 | Reply

europeans weight all the ingredients for baking, i think with the spooons and cups it’s faster!

what I used to deem essential and it was hard to find in london was the “mezzaluna”…half-moon-chopper.

but i learned to live without, then imported one from italy!

4. Candy | November 20, 2008 | Reply

TOP three things
1. Good quality knives
2. Vegetable peeler
3. A wok

5. Esther | November 20, 2008 | Reply

Yes, good knives are an absolute MUST.

6. Silke | November 20, 2008 | Reply

to follow on the discussion of the cheese slicer, which I think is one of the best invention ever, a little story here on who acutally invented the cheese slicer.
We once had a dinnerparty at our place and the guests were Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and my husband who is Dutch (I am German myself and we Germans are completely unaware of the cheese slicer). Than a discussion started about who had invented the cheese slicer. Each nationality was convinced that they had invented it and found all kinds of ‘evidence’ for it. After having done research on Google, which did not really give reliable answers (after all we wanted to be really sure), only further research days after our dinner showed that the cheese slicer is actually a Swedish invention. So sorry for the Dutch, the Denish and the Norwegians…

7. Tina | November 20, 2008 | Reply

Not sure if it is an American thing, or just because I love baking, but I love my pastry cutter. It got lost in our move over and I couldn’t find one in London. It has been one of the best things my mom has sent me from back home.

My husband, being German, doesn’t care about the cheese slicer we own, but he just had to buy a bread slicer when we moved here. I don’t think it gets enough use for the amount of space it takes up, but I think my husband finds comfort in seeing it sit in the kitchen!

8. Emilie | November 20, 2008 | Reply

The cheese slicer seems to be the one everyone claims as their own. I was sure it was invented at the end of the 19th century in Lillehammer Norway. There is even a museum in Lillerhammer in honour of the inventor of the cheese slicer…. I completely forgot about the German bread slicing machine, every good German household had one of those when I was growing up in Germany!

9. La Mom | November 20, 2008 | Reply

I’ve finally lived in Paris so long that I gave up my measuring spoons and use the French “cuillère à café” and “cuillère à soupe” everyday spoons.

Have I actually started to become French?!?

La Mom
An American Mom in Paris

LEAVE A COMMENT