Have you ever noticed how many kitchen gadgets look like small torture devices?
What Is It?
A mortar and pestle
How Does It Work?
Put items in the mortar. Grind with pestle. You may ask yourself, “Self, how is this different than a coffee grinder or food processor. Both of which are electric and will not cause your arm muscles to ache for days.” And, you would then have to answer, “This is for crushing… not pureeing.” When you crush spices and the like, you release their flavors in a different, secret, special way that putting them in a coffee grinder cannot. OK, seriously, I was pulling stuff out of my ass on that one.
Do I Really Need It?
If you like fresh ground spices and don’t want to invest in a second coffee grinder, then sure. But as evidence by my answer above, you probably don’t need one. (Oh, and by the way, you shouldn’t grind your peppercorns or nutmeg in the same grinder that you use for coffee. Coffee oils + spices do not make for happy cooking.)
Let’s say though, that you love guacamole. And, you are a traditionalist (making guacamole from scratch instead of from a plastic container), then this would be handy to have. If you do get one for that purpose, make sure it’s big enough to make gauc for guests and that you have a non-skid bottom. Crushing avocado is a messy, slippery business. I would also suggest NOT using the gauc mortar and pestle for spices. But, I’m a kitchen gadget segregationist.
Where Can I Buy My Own?
Just about anywhere. Yes, Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Target have some cheapy ones. But, if you’re going to get one, get a good one–made of stone (granite or marble). Porcelain may look pretty, but you need a rough, grooved surface to get the full effect of mashing wee spices between two hearty pieces of rock. Me, cave cooker, me crush peppercorn!