Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Ruhlman vs. Cherry Pitter
“As a rule, any tool that has only one use should be avoided: examples including the shrimp deveiner, cherry pitter, hand crank fruit peeler, special slicers for butter, eggs, avocado, mango et cetera...."
From The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman.
Did he just write cherry pitter?!!! What on earth is Ruhlman thinking?
The humble cherry pitter is a tool in desperate need of a champion. It is one of the most useful implements in our drawer and that it only ever gets pulled out once a year to do its job, in no way detracts from that usefulness. A cherry pitter's design is elegantly simple, yet does its work with ruthless efficiency.
It would probably be safe to say that Ruhlman does not preserve cherries, nor remove their stones before making a clafoutis. Dentists all over the world should annoint him their patron saint as they take their expensive overseas holidays, financed in part by unsuspecting teeth, broken on unforgiving cherry kernels.
According to The Elements of Cooking the most useful kitchen tools are a chef’s knife, a large cutting board, a large sauté pan, a flat edged wood spoon and a large non-reactive (Pyrex ideally) bowl. As useful as all those things are, that list makes Ruhlman seem like an ascetic, possibly prone to the odd troubling vision of Anthony Bourdain's tool kit.
Here's how it really works, someone makes gadgets, we buy them. Why? Because some of them actually do work and besides, tinkerers need a job too, plus, I don't need to be made to feel like a Catholic, guilty at eyeing off a brand new Thermomix.
But perhaps the real reason he has got it in for cherry pitters has nothing at all to do with their alleged lack of usefulness. Have you ever pitted a substantial quantity of cherries, say more than 5kg at a time? The resulting kitchen scene resembles the aftermath of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with bright crimson splatters all over the work area and to locate the serial killer responsible, one needs to merely look in the mirror.
But as a tool, I wouldn't be without one.