Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2002
Dear Diary:

The spousal unit is a man who can cook a very simple, basic meal and frankly he's not the kind of guy to sit down and watch a cooking show unless it's Nigella Bites.

Put Nigella on, and suddenly the man takes a profound, almost reverential interest in cooking.

Now you know and I know that this is because:

1) Nigella has a habit of bending over things, revealing a chestal area of such proportions that should she visit Monaco she would immediately plunge that entire principality into shade and

2) She has a habit of dipping her finger into whatever she's cooking and licking bits of foody goodness off in a style that would make most porn actresses blush.

When I tease him about his Nigella fixation, the spousal unit gets all indignant and protests that he enjoys her show because she cooks simple recipes even he can follow.

After checking my back carefully for any fresh "Born Yesterday" signs, I generally nod as if I agree with him.

Yeah. Sure. It's ALL about the cooking.

Sure it is.

Well, last week Nigella had a comfort food show and one of the things she made was decadently rich mashed potatoes, using a potato ricer to make her potatoes light and fluffy. (A potato ricer looks like an oversized garlic press--you squeeze your freshly cooked potatoes through it to make mashed potatoes of otherworldly lightness.)

The spousal unit was transfixed when Nigella dipped her finger into the pot and licked a generous dollop of white fluffy goodness off said finger, making semi-orgasmic sounds.

Yeah. Sure. It's ALL about the cooking.

Sure it is.

A few hours later we were making nachos and the husband was whining about the time it takes to drop dollops of bean paste on the nacho chips and how it's all clumpy and then ... and then he got his epiphany. If we had a potato ricer like Nigella does, he could mush the bean paste through it and put little thin strings of bean paste on his nachos quickly and easily.

Frankly, I'm skeptical. I'm guessing that if you run bean paste through a potato ricer you're going to get gucky bean mush. But, you can make the most wonderful egg salad sandwiches in the world with a potato ricer, and I love egg salad sandwiches, so why not get one anyhow?

And so my quest began.

Last weekend I went into Montreal because my daughter has been altogether too happy and grounded. There's nothing quite like A Visit From Mom to blow happiness like that to smithereens and really, what's the point of motherhood if you CAN'T get on your adult child's last nerve?

So off I went to Montreal where I dragged my poor unfortunate daughter and her hapless sweetie on A Quest For A Good Potato Ricer, an object that so far has proven only slightly less elusive than a unicorn.

We began at The Bay, a ginormous department store with a whole floor devoted to kitchen gadgets. The saleswoman spoke limited English and I speak French of such appalling inadequacy that it usually makes even committed Quebec indépendentistes break into English.

I didn't know the French word for potato ricer so in my fractured Franglais I told the clerk it was like a garlic press, only bigger and you squeezed potatoes through it.

When she realized what it was, I thought she might start weeping because she remembered both her mother and her grandmother using one. I could see her eyes misting over at the memory of truly spectacular mashed potatoes. Pulling herself together, she had to tell me the sad news that they had sold them all out and wouldn't have any new ones for a few weeks.


I decide I want an obscurish kitchen tool which last had a heyday sometime in the 1950's and suddenly EVERYONE wants one.


We finally did track down one potato ricer, but it was so poorly made that I knew the first time it came in contact with an actual potato it would have a nervous breakdown and collapse into a mass of twisted metal. I've found a few on-line, and I may go that route to buy one, but I really would prefer to see a ricer and handle it before I buy it.

And in the meantime ... well, in the meantime I know I can't match Nigella when it comes to shade making abilities, or cooking, but I'm pretty sure that if I practice hard enough I can probably get the lick and moan thingie nailed.

Funny they didn't teach that back in high school Home Ec classes, eh?


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