The Cuisipro Pocket Grater
Twenty years ago, if you wanted to turn food into teensy even pieces you could chop it with a knife, shred it with a grater, pulverize it in a mortar or a food processor, skin it with a vegetable peeler, or blow it up. The Microplane changed all that.
According to legend, a Canadian housewife baking something called Armenian orange cake got frustrated with her grater, borrowed a newfangled rasp her woodworker husband had recently brought home, and discovered that orange peel went through it like a sneeze through a screen door.
The Microplane takes off, eh?
What separated this tool from commonplace graters was that its teeth, created by chemical etching rather than stamping, were sharper. They cut rather than sawing or tearing. Bye-bye, scratch-and-dent chunks; hello, dreamy citrus floss! As they say in cooking school, “if it looks the same, it cooks the same.” The even flakes or curls or threads took less effort to cut and cook, yet they improved flavor since more of the surface area of food touched the tongue.
In 1994, I, too, was a Canadian housewife — the house and the husband were in Texas, mind you, but I hadn’t abandoned any citizenships. Over the next ten years, I heard “Microplane” become a literal household word — a verb, actually — as the tool went from domestic to restaurant and other commercial kitchens, singlehandedly turning the act of zesting into a culinary fad. Today, the etched-hole grater stands among a chef’s most valued assets. (“Armenian orange cake,” on the other hand: code name for the Kardashian sisters?)
If the kitchen happens to be your office, such grater-zesters — of which the Cuisipro Pocket Grater is a notably clever, affordable example — resemble that ever-so-helpful and much-valued companion known as your work spouse.
Spouse great; work spouse grater
Shall I cut to the chase? As most of us know and would rather not admit, the work spouse situation starts with simple affection: liking and appreciating each other, building each other up in conversation— all very affirming. But sometimes a line is crossed. Perhaps at a social function after work (okay, drinking), you complain about your real spouse or significant other, sending the message that your door is open, and mayhem ensues. It happens less because we’re evil than because we simply underestimate the power of infatuation.
This is why I am telling you to be very, very careful.
The Cuisipro Pocket Grater comes on like the super-slim scion of the box-grater line, a Good Soldier Safety First in a clear plastic cover with a clip-tab that lets you stash it in a pocket at no risk to the future of your own family. Once it’s loose, any one of the Pocket Grater’s three cutting surfaces or “blades” can be extended and locked in. You can then use the cover as a handle while you grate.
The coarse blade can grate ginger and cut small strands of cheddar, soft cheeses, and carrots. The superfine blade can powder chocolate, cinnamon, or nutmeg. “Starburst” refers to the shape of blade holes that are ideal for powdering hard cheeses like manchego — not candy, and not, despite what Rachael Ray may say, garlic.
All three blades deliver the essence and spare you the pith thanks to the Cuisipro’s comfy hand-hold, stable tip, and effortless stroke. Chk-chk. Grind whole star anise, please, Cuisipro! Chk-chk. Shave me a truffle! Chk-chk. Play that lemon like a violin!
When it’s time to move on, the retractable blades let the Pocket Grater clean up real good and pack down to a portable 6.6 inches.
So, will your real spouse start your dashi for you? Probably not. On the other hand, would you prefer to be in a relationship with a cheese ratchet? Don’t drink with the Cuisipro Pocket Grater in your pants. And dance with the one that brung you.