Clever cooks have always found inspiration outside the kitchen.
The modern corkscrew came to us by way of a tool once used to clean the barrel of a musket. The Microplane grater was born when a frustrated chef used one of her husband's woodworking rasps to zest oranges for a cake.
In The Apartment (1960), a repurposed tennis racquet brings new meaning to the phrase "dinner is served."
In a classic scene, bachelor C.C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack Lemmon) returns home with a big bag of groceries to find that his fragile houseguest, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) has been straightening up the place. "What's a tennis racquet doing in the kitchen?" she asks.
Bud takes time to recollect: "A tennis racquet? Oh, I remember - I was cooking myself an Italian dinner."
Fran is still puzzled, so Bud continues, "I used it to strain spaghetti."
Boasting that he's a pretty good cook, Bud offers to make dinner. Fran watches in amazement as he uses the racquet to gleefully strain, rinse, and transfer the pasta onto a plate.
"Wait 'til you see me serve the meatballs!" he says, pantomiming a perfect backhand stroke.
Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. The third, written with co-author Faith Durand, is The Kitchn Cookbook. It will be published in Fall 2014 by Clarkson Potter.
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