I cannot consider myself a great chef or much of a baker but I can say I love and have always loved and will always love everything to do with kitchens. I dream of the Julia Child style wall pegboard where every kitchen item is stenciled out and hung on the wall, found in an instant, and not after the drawer slamming, vain accusations, and Dirvish-swirling that happens in my kitchen. I ask my husband to play the Paul Child to my Julia Child in my kitchen fantasy but he is much more like the actor Stanley Tucci than the part he plays in the movie. I'd still like a place to put all those gadgets.
I think up to this point, I simply circumnavigated cooking and most technical matters. Circling ideas is foolhardy like my former Spanish student who could do a hilarious Elvis impersonation in Spanish but could never pass a test. Only now do I see the value in a properly chopped onion. Don't laugh, ask any chef, it is a fundamental technique for uniform flavor, texture, and color.
In search of more kitchen gadgets this week I started up quite a few conversations with the experienced business owners of Milan's botteghe antiche, historic landmark shops. These are usually family businesses and all must meet the requirement of having been in business more than fifty years. If you are lucky to land the owner as your salesperson, caveat emptor! Not in the sense that they will sell you something shoddy, quite the contrary, you'll walk out with the best.
On Saturday, I met Mr Fornaro, the owner of Casalinghi Fornaro in Milan. He has been in the business for sixty years. If anyone knows about home kitchen equipment he does. In less than an hour I found the pots, pans, bowls, dishes, food processor, garlic press and cutting boards I had been looking for for years online and at department stores.
Caveat Emptor in the other sense, I didn't buy the scallops at Pescolini for Friday's recipe as from Thursday to Friday the price tripled to "accomodate" the fish only eaters preparing for the traditional weekend for first communions at the local Catholic churches. Shameless marketing!
Such are the challenges of cooking a new recipe every single day. Therefore, I have decided to follow the autodidact chef Nigella Lawson, the self- proclaimed domestic goddess with an Oxford degree in Medieval literature and Modern Languages and the master of being fearless in love and life. We have more in common than Julia Child, God rest her soul.