In Defense of the Garlic Press
I hate chopping garlic. It’s sticky, it stinks up my cutting board, stinks up my hands, and perfumes anything that comes close to it with its not-always-welcome aroma. Crushing a clove under a knife is no big deal. It stays in its jacket and travels easily from board to pot or pan. Slicing is manageable, razor-sharp blade or not, but anything beyond a very rough chop is a pain. Now, I love garlic, sautéed with greens, mellowed in soups and stews, even raw in dips and dressings. But I hate chopping garlic.
If it’s just one clove I’m dealing with, I’ve been digging the finely grated approach, using a Microplane to shave cloves into a near paste. But that still means I have to wash my board, my hands, and the Microplane—and risk my fingertips in the process. So last week I dug out the garlic press.
We didn’t have a garlic press growing up—it was mostly a garlic-powder situation. But I think my mom, who did the lion’s share of the cooking and admitted only after I started cooking professionally that she hated it, would have really appreciated one. Come to think of it, what a clever knife-free way to get kids involved in the kitchen. Along the way to becoming a professional cook, I got it in my head that garlic presses were bad, maybe even “below me.” I think it was Anthony Bourdain who said that if you use a garlic press you’d go to hell. (Hey, Tony, already going!) But once I got my hands on a good one, I realized that the thing works. And the good ones work well. Now I can’t remember why I started talking shit in the first place.
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