Three years ago Mark Bittman, who taught us How to Cook Everything, published an article in his New York Times blog, The Minimalist, about kitchen equipment. Reading it, one learned how "$200 can equip a basic kitchen that will be adequate for just about any task, and $300 can equip one quite well." For many months I kept the article bookmarked in my browser and every time I was tempted by a bread machine, or even a food processor (Bittman cooks without one), I'd go back and remind myself that "a no-frills kitchen still cooks."
In the years since Bittman's article, many of our kitchens have gone through a Renaissance. Sure, we purchased our un-name-brand pots and kept our countertops sparse. And yet, for many of us, the joys of cooking from scratch have replaced our exhausted efforts just to stay fed. It seems the world's collective conscience has finally deemed food a serious subject of study, and home cooks are working hard to keep up.
This year, the prestigious Fulbright Association will award its first grant to study at Italy's University of Gastronomic Sciences. Within the United States, more and more universities are endowing graduate programs in Food Studies. At the French Culinary Institute, aspiring food journalists can enroll in a Food Blogging course with Steven Shaw, founder of eGullet. Food bloggers and inspired home cooks can find just about any recipe online if they look hard enough, as well as the history and mythologies of all the world's cuisines. But, if they plan on cooking all these new dishes, they need the proper equipment.
So after negotiating with my bank account and my own limited counter space, I compiled a list of tools that would enhance my kitchen capabilities. I followed his advice and headed to a restaurant supply store downtown where even my luxury items would cost less. Listed below are three kitchen tools that bring me the most joy, and that I recommend to the aspiring foodies seeking culinary bliss and gastronomic credibility.