The 5 Incredibly Helpful Kitchen Tools My French in-Laws Can’t Live Without

published Aug 18, 2021
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White Kitchen
Credit: Margaret Rajic | Stocksy

Have you ever stepped into someone else’s home and become fascinated with their kitchen tools? That’s how I felt on my inaugural visit to my in-laws’ home in the Dordogne, in Southwestern France — the first time I’d ever been in a real, French kitchen.

While my kitchen cabinets are overflowing with cookware, gadgets, and tableware I’ve amassed over the years, theirs held much more practical choices — gadgets and items they used pretty much every day. If you’re looking to add some French pragmatism to your kitchen, look no further than these five kitchen finds that my French in-laws swear by.

1. A Bread Board

Bread is how many French people start and end their day: In the morning, a toasted piece of baguette slathered in butter; in the evening, more sliced bread to accompany one’s dinner. When my husband moved in with me, he brought that tradition with him and would cut bread on my wooden chopping board, leaving behind an unruly mess of crumbs that often found their way onto the counter or floor. To alleviate the mess, he suggested a bread board, something his parents use every day. This nesting-style board is brilliant because it features a built-in crumb catcher. 

2. A Stationary Peeler

It took a while for me to get used to this style of vegetable peeler, but once I did I was able to peel root vegetables efficiently and remove eyes from potatoes using the peeler’s pointed top and a twist of the wrist. The blade on this peeler by Opinel is made from stainless steel and it has a classic design that removes just the right amount of peel. Plus, it can be used in either hand and either direction! This model is dishwasher-safe and has an ergonomically weighted handle, an improvement over the traditional wooden handle version.

3. Small Wine Glasses

At family meals, wine is served in small, short-stemmed glasses similar to the kind used in casual French cafes and bistros. Some wine snobs might insist on using “proper” stemware, but long-stemmed glasses are usually reserved for fancier, more gastronomic restaurants. I now recommend these INAO wine glasses, named after the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine. Typically used for professional tastings, they are suitable for red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines. As a bonus, their diminutive size allows them to fit into the dishwasher for easy cleanup — great for anyone who dreads washing wine glasses by hand. Not exactly a tool, I know, but very worth mentioning!

4. An Electric Kettle

Afternoons at my in-laws’ typically involves a sweet snack accompanied by a cup of tea. Enter: the bouilloire électrique, also known as an electric kettle. More energy-efficient than its stovetop counterpart, the water heats up quickly and shuts off just as the water begins to boil. You’ll be able to make yourself a cup of tea quickly, and won’t have to worry about a shrill teapot whistle (great for quiet mornings). It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you’re picky about aesthetics, kettles are available in a wide variety of styles, including gorgeous gooseneck-style versions that are also perfect for pour-over coffee.

5. Nonstick Frying Pans

While professional chefs might prefer carbon steel sauté pans, home cooks in France often own less expensive nonstick frying pans for general daily use. My in-laws have a collection of various sizes of affordable nonstick pans that they use for pan-frying delicate fish fillets and making omelettes, scrambled eggs, and crêpes. The French brand T-fal (or Tefal) is popular, thanks to its excellent performance and reasonable price point.

Do you have any of these? Let us know in the comments!