A Unitasker You Can Love

[Photo: Olive Oil Shop]

I don’t know how good Alton Brown is as a chef, but he’s definitely the world’s best kitchen docent.

Nobody seems better able to guide us through the tools, techniques, and ingredients that go into making a great dish—and why. His Good Eats series on Food TV was the Mr. Wizard of cooking shows. Today Good Eats exists only in reruns, and I think Alton’s talents are being wasted on hosting Iron Chef and various culinary reality shows. He really ought to get back into his own kitchen.

When he is cooking, one of Alton’s pet peeves is the unitasker—the tool that does just one thing and spends the other 364 days a year in a cupboard or at the bottom of a drawer. Kitchen stores are full of these one-hit wonders: the Avocado Cuber! the Square Hard-Boiled Egg Maker! Onion Goggles! (For years I’ve looked for a Cheese Straightener, but apparently that exists only in George Carlin’s mind.)

Alton quite rightly encourages us to learn to use the essential tools of the kitchen for a multitude of tasks. Don’t waste your money on a strawberry huller; learn to hull a strawberry with the ultimate multitasker, the knife. Alton claimed that the only single-use gadget he allowed in his kitchen was the fire extinguisher. And even that could be pressed into alternative service to, say, grind coriander.

I’d like to nominate one other single-use kitchen tool for the Special Alton Brown Multitasker Exemption: the Olive Dipper.

It is basically a tiny slotted spoon. I’ve never bought one, but our family members, knowing Cuisine Stupide’s affinity both for olives and for the martinis to bathe them in, have bought us three. There are two basic varieties: straight-handled and ladle. I prefer the latter. It lets you snag the olive and leave the brine behind. It also comes in a lot of designs and materials.

And if pressed, I can think of a few alternative uses that would turn this little unitasker into a regular Swiss Army Knife of the kitchen. You could use your Olive Dipper as a tiny colander, for example. Or a drip filter basket for a thimble-sized espresso.

Or even, in a pinch, a strawberry huller.

2 thoughts on “A Unitasker You Can Love”

  1. You mean there’s some tool to use for this instead of jamming my fingers into the long olive jar and then spilling half the juice out when I tip the jar to get the ones at the bottom? What evil magic have you conjured?

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