When my 94-year-old grandmother, famous for her Great-Depression-era practicality and resourcefulness (the only person I’ve ever known to wash out squares of aluminum foil to reuse) came to stay with me and my husband a couple of years ago, I had a few moments of panic of how we might share the same space for a week. I was particularly worried she might be bored during the day, while I worked from home. But then I remembered our mutual affection for Martha Stewart Living. I made a stack for her on the kitchen table in the morning and set up my work station in the next room.
But every time I came into the kitchen to check on her, it was the flimsy Sur La Table catalog that she was poring over; at the end of her trip, on her way out the door, she held it up and asked if she could take it with her. “There are some good ideas in here,” she said.
Which is all to say that I get it. I understand the lure of these culinary catalogs. Though I have no toaster or toaster oven and still chop my vegetables on the IKEA cutting board I purchased when I was 25, I too flip through the Sur La Table catalog, imagining myself making ebelskivers in a cast-iron ebelskiver pan and the ensuing happiness that would fall over my life.
That said, the most recent Sur La Table offering arrived at my door with an entire page dedicated to “Fruit and Vegetable Tools.” And I’m 100% sure that Grandma would agree with me when I say: this time, they’ve gone too far.
Here are some of SLT’s most unnecessary gadgets and their very capable alternatives.
Amelia Morris is the creator of the site Bon Appétempt as well as the author of the book by the same name.
1 of 17
Pineapple Corer and Slicer:
Unless you're a pineapple hound (hound level is achieved by averaging one pineapple per month, per year) you really don't need an entire apparatus dedicated solely to dismantling one.
2 of 17
Useful Alternative: A knife. Which, according to the corer's directions, you have to use anyway as a pre-tool. Watch this if you'd like some pointers for cutting a pineapple with simply a knife.
3 of 17
My issue with this one is that it doesn't even try to solve the real mango problem, which is how to get that delicious velvety fruit away from its inedible skin without wasting precious half-inches of the stuff. Also, the pits of larger mangoes don't even fit through this thing.
4 of 17
Useful Alternative: A knife.
5 of 17
Progressive Wedge and Pop:
Gross name. I'm using a knife.
6 of 17
Useful Alternative: A knife.
7 of 17
Grape & Small Tomato Slicing Guide:
Even if this one fits into my dedicated fruit-and-vegetable-tool drawer (it wouldn't), it's too embarrassing to actually use.
8 of 17
Useful Alternative: A serrated knife. This tip will make it even faster.
9 of 17
Citrus Mister: I think this almost-fully-functioning online review-bot put it best: "Great for limited use of hand people."
10 of 17
Useful Alternative: A knife, and possibly a citrus reamer.