In Defense of Unitaskers

I used to work for an American kitchenware retail chain (not the one you’re thinking of; the other one), and we sold all kinds of what were euphemistically called “gadgets,” but what some of us referred to as “money-wasters” or “takers-up-of-precious-kitchen-space.”

You know what I’m talking about — tools that are marketed as being the “quick and easy” way to do ONE specific thing. Things like … mango slicers. Or avocado pitters. Or apple segment-ers. In fact, my coworkers and I developed a rule for how to identify these gadgets: Can the same task be accomplished with a knife? Yes? Then it’s a unitasker.

A few years ago, I hopped on the KonMari bandwagon and started ruthlessly purging our apartment of anything and everything that didn’t spark joy. So when I found out last year we’d be moving to Spain, I was already in a good spot for downsizing to a smaller living space. But even still, I gave away or donated tons of kitchen items that I knew I didn’t really need or that weren’t going to work in Europe. ¡Adios!, everything with a plug.

But as I continued to purge and pack — even getting rid of things I loved beyond any sense of restraint, like my Zojirushi rice cooker (I miss you! So much!) — I was shocked to find an honest to goodness unitasker sitting in my tool drawer, arms crossed and staring back at me defiantly as if to say: See? You’re no better than anyone else. You, too, have a unitasker. And you know you’re going to put me in that box over there and ship me all the way to Spain.

I’m not even sorry about this.

And it’s true! I did! I have a garlic press in my incredibly tiny Madrid kitchen. I use it all the time, but it only does ONE thing. Sure, I could use a knife to mince garlic. In fact, that’s actually the better way to do it, for all sorts of reasons I’m usually too lazy to care about. But I love my garlic press, damnit, and I don’t think I’ll ever not have one, no matter how small of a kitchen I find myself in.

As long as we’re confessing here, this isn’t even my first garlic press. My mom bought one in the ‘90s at a Pampered Chef party (stop snickering), and I took it when I moved into my first apartment. I must have had it for over a decade before Mr. Natalie, while we were dating, managed to break it with his own bare hands while “helping” me in the kitchen. Realizing I was apparently involved with Superman, I went out and bought the sturdiest, most heavy-duty stainless steel model I could find at the time, and it’s served us well ever since.

So I am not going to apologize for owning a garlic press, but I would like to apologize to all the home cooks I scoffed at over the years for buying whatever unitaskers they deemed necessary. We should all be allowed at least one unitasker in our kitchens without fear of judgment. In fact, if I were the type of person who baked cherry pies, I could definitely see owning both a garlic press and a cherry pitter.

It’s just, you know, be careful with these things and don’t go overboard. If you only get to have one unitasker (or maaaaybe two) in your kitchen, please don’t make it one of those ridiculous herb strippers. Because you don’t even need a knife for that, do you? You have fingers!

So do you have a unitasker or two lurking in your kitchen? Confess your uni-secrets in the comments!

garlic head and cloves

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