Because I tout the simple, sparse life in the kitchen, it comes to the surprise of many who visit me in my cooking den that I own a garlic press. The love affair didn't happen overnight. It took me a while to proudly press garlic with a one-hit-wonder gadget, but now I use it all the time.
This single-use tool doesn't even have any sneaky alternate uses; the only thing it will do for your meal is crush garlic into the finest, most gloriously minuscule mince possible.
Well, there is one other use for this uncool tool, and it was actually its first use in our house. I bought the garlic press — dark sunglasses and wig on — when my daughter was a baby, after seeing her play with it at a friend's house, noting how it kept her busy in her high chair for minutes on end while I put together a meal.
Labeled in my mind as a toy, I kept it in a kitchen drawer, determined not to need it as a gadget. But as my daughter found less joy in pushing a banana or play-dough through it, I found gradual doses of joy in the way it minced garlic in one go and soon enough, with pride taking over my shame, I moved it out of the drawer and into my countertop kitchen tool pot.
I have a low-tech version: no cleaning mechanism or springs, bells or whistles. I actually enjoy scooping out the film of garlic skin left behind after a good pressing and feeling it release with a pop from the perforated basket. It turns black in the dishwasher, so I have to clean it by hand; one might argue the care of it more than makes up for the time and effort saved by using it in the first place, but the tactile thrill of pushing a clove swiftly through its little holes keeps me hooked.
Still, more than one friend in the food world has commented "You have a garlic press?" Yeah, maybe it's not cool, but I'm keeping it. With pride.
(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)