Useless kitchen gadgets. Everyone has at least one, quietly lurking away in some kitchen drawer, or maybe even proudly displayed on a bench. If you haven’t been sucked in to buying one, chances are you’ve at least been gifted one in the past.
An upmarket Brisbane home wares store are currently advertising giant pancake pens – basically a large squeezie bottle that you load up with batter and then squirt into your hot frying pan. Having a gift voucher burning a hole in my pocket, I caught myself wondering how handy they would be to have...before giving myself a big mental slap over the back of the head. A squeezie bottle? For batter? I probably make pancakes about once a year. And yet...I still kind of want one.
The kitchen gadget trap is particularly good at sucking you in... There’s something for everyone: how could a handy man turn into a full blown home chef, if not for his faux-leather BBQ tool belt, complete with egg flip and tongs? If you’ve ever listened to Jens Lekman, you’d be well aware of the perils of avocado slicing, so why not let an avocado slicer do the work for you? If you ever feel that you’ve dispelled unnecessary amounts of energy grinding salt and pepper? Fear not – push button electric salt and pepper grinders are now readily available; some even with an inbuilt LED light for pin-point accuracy when seasoning.
Joining the useless kitchen items list we have ‘banana hangers’, ‘cheese domes’, ‘mushroom brushes’ and baby tongs. And as much as I detest them, way too many people seem enamoured by their garlic peelers for me to judge too harshly.
Another gadget that seemed to have a strong run in the late 90’s was the beloved pie maker. Take last night’s left over Bolognese, some puff pastry and boom –ready to go little pies. No drive to the servo required. Never mind that you could just fold the edges on the puff and pop them in the oven for the same result....
My grandfather was an avid lover of the pie maker. We would often be treated to a three course pie extravaganza – maybe left-over Mornay to begin, followed by a mince concoction and then a fruity variation on tinned pie apple to finish. I think the pie-happy craze finished up good seven or eight years ago, but the little machine is still sitting tight somewhere, just in case.
Come to think of it, out of my little foodie circle of friends, I don’t think there is one person I know that hasn’t been enamoured by one particular useless item at one point or another. There’s no way I could throw out my beloved penguin-shaped waffle maker. In four years of owning it, I’ve used it three times. The waffles have a little dent in the penguin’s stomach for ice cream. As useless, ridiculous and potentially embarrassing as it is, I really love that damn machine.