Sent by MelissaEditor: Melissa, well, our thought is that if your mother has never used a mortar and pestle, and if she wants it for grinding spices, she may be in for a disillusionment. It's hard to grind spices with a mortar and pestle! We stick to our electric grinder for grinding things into a fine powder. But if she just wants to crack pepper, bruise herbs, and other simpler things, then it's a great tool (and looks great on the counter too).
What about buying her a wider, shallower model that would also be good for guacamole or other smashed dips? Here's a good discussion on that topic:
Readers, any tips on the mortar and pestle question?
Related: Do You Own a Mortar and Pestle?
(Image: Le Creuset)