Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Salt and Pepper

One of the great pleasures in life, not to be overestimated, is that of grinding fresh peppercorns and rock salt onto a delicious meal, made all the more delicious by the addition of those condiments.  The pleasure is increased exponentially when the grinders actually work.

There are many things in life that wear out in a gradual process that is surreptitious and inexorable.  Examples include car parts.  If you use a car every day, the brake linings wear out in such a way that you never notice the ever-increasing extra effort required on the brake pedal, and you never consciously think that something should be done about it, since you haven't really noticed the gradual worsening.  It's only a before and after comparison that makes you realise how bad they were, and the effort you were making.

Such has been the case with our salt and pepper grinders over the past couple of years.  We once had a set of wooden grinders of second-class quality that were wearing out as fast as they could from day one.  They were replaced by a glass set, but again with cheap plastic grinding surfaces.  (I assumed that was the way of things). 

As the salt grinder wore out it was stuck in the cupboard and replaced with Saxa ready-to-pour.  Shock!  Horror!  The pepper grinder had long been replaced by a Master Foods mini-grinder off the supermarket shelf.  Recently I determined that the salt grinder should be resurrected, regardless of how it performed, because nothing compares with decent rock salt freshly ground.

However, using the salt grinder was excruciating.  A lot of energy was required for not much grinding.  The only way to see if any ground salt was actually produced was to hold it against a dark background.  The grinder had to be shaken, tipped sideways and then upright again to have any hope of success.  Turning the top likewise required a variety of back and forward techniques in the hope that something would work.

Eventually, I decided enough was enough - we should go shopping for new grinders!  Hang the expense and the misuse of scarce resources.  A time comes when some things are no longer viable and must be sacrificed.

We started in Big W, observing that grinders do seem to all have plastic grinding surfaces these days, so that I imagined we should have been replacing our grinders every six months or so to maintain some semblance of efficacy.  Rather than rush in, however, we thought to ask someone in a specialty shop.  What would the Rolls Royce of grinders be like, I wondered.

The result is that we now have a fantastic pair of grinders and no more expensive than the Big W ones.  The brand is Maxwell and Williams, which doesn't mean anything to me, but they are beautifully made.  The salt grinder has "ceramic mechanism" stamped on its grinding surface, and the pepper grinder says "carbon steel".

The best thing, though, is that with a couple of fingers twisting the knob no more than ten degrees a shower of salt or pepper can be produced with almost no effort.  What a contrast with the old salt grinder.  The grinding is fine and thorough.  I can't believe that this has happened!

There is a moral to the story, of course, but I don't think it needs to be spelled out!

PS  In exactly the same vein,  there was nothing wrong with my sawtooth bread knife, worked quite well I thought, until Jac and Pat gave me for Fathers' Day a beaut scalloped edge new one.  It is amazingly sharp and cuts like the bread is butter!

1 comment:

  1. I can completely relate to this. We have still been using our big mortar and pestle to grind pepper at home - big chucks and dust, out in the open air and probably stale (sorry visitors past and future!). Same bag of salt has lasted a few years, I'm afraid. I also did some online research, which led me to becoming mesmerised with the idea of pepper that is crushed not ground, not to mention the plethora of beautiful designs there are. So my heart went to the $200 Italian job (it's short but it's wide - a big cup of your hand turns the top, yes, I have held it in real life) and I'll not spend a penny on another until I save up for that one...well that's my excuse for putting up with the mortar and pestle for a few more years!