Dear kind and gentle readers, as I know we are all of mild disposition and in no way mean spirited. I shall omit the actual name of the store that I will be talking about today, because I am better than that. I am above name calling, finger wagging and tattle tailing…so for this post I am taking the moral high road… besides, someday they may want to give me a pile of money to endorse them… so I certainly have to leave that option open.
It was a couple of days before Christmas and a friend of mine had gotten me a present. It was a fifty dollar gift certificate to ….oh let’s call it “Bill Fresno”(you like how I did that?). You’ve seen this place before, it seems like every mall has one. Oh, you do know where I’m talking about. It’s the place you can buy a nine dollar lemon reamer, (while the rest of the wooden lemon reamer selling world is giving them away for two or three bucks) or what I found fascinating, a ten dollar banana slicer (are you F…ing serious?!). These little beauties must be flying out the door! RIGGGHHHT….that place! So I had been there before, numerous times in fact, but not very recently. Being a diehard cook and cibo (yes cibo works in this case, trust me) I am always drawn into any store that has shiny pots, pans, knives, gadgets, do dads, and what not’s. Five minutes after going into Bill Fresno I always come away chuckling at the serious faced people inside asking serious questions about this seriously bad premade chutney, or that seriously overpriced sautoire pan….that they will…..seriously….buy?!
So I’m thinking surely I’ll be able to get something decent for fifty bucks, I know at my own restaurant supply store I could get perhaps a saute pan, or an offset serrated and paring knife (yes both)…sadly, I was mistaken. I strolled into the store and was immediately assaulted by several sales people. I guess the assumption is, if you’re shopping there to begin with, you must be clueless. I can go into my restaurant supply store and if I didn’t go to the counter with my question, they would probably not know I was there and shut the lights off come closing time. It’s not that they aren’t helpful, they are… they just assume if you are in their store, you must know what the hell you’re doing. So back to Bill Fresno… I politely tell them I am looking for a saute pan and won’t be requiring their assistance. I started looking at saute pans and found only two out of some twenty that just squeaked in under a hundred bucks. A sales woman came over and offered “This one’s on sale!” I said thanks, but I’m looking for a saute pan. She said, “oh I’m sure this one is an excellent saute pan.”…. “Ma’am, it’s a sautoir” Her: “Isn’t that what this is?!” I then spent the next couple of minutes explaining to her the difference between a saute, sauteuse, sautoir, cassoulet and rondeau… Which I don’t mind. I actually enjoy teaching something about cooking that they don’t know. I was just thinking I wouldn’t have to do so here. By the way, I checked when I got back home…there were fourteen out of nineteen saute pans that were under a hundred bucks at my restaurant supply store and 8 of those were under fifty!
So I thought cutlery would be a no brainer for a fifty spot…..wrong again. In all fairness, they did have three or four pairing knives for sale under fifty bucks, but they were either ones I already had or ones I’d never use unless at gunpoint. Take the bird’s beak paring knife, this little baby is great for such fun cuts as the tourné cut. Tourné is where you take little root vegetables and turn them into little seven sided footballs …. WEEEEE…. a total pain in the ass and a total waste of time. The other FUN things you can do with a bird’s beak paring knife is fluting mushrooms, or making rosettes with things like radishes… these are both as much fun and useful as learning how to make a prison shank by rubbing a toothbrush on concrete….actually I’d argue the latter may be more fun and useful. Anyway, it was a no go on the cutlery, every other knife was so expensive it’s not even worth mentioning.
So how about gadgets, I’m all for something that I can use for multiple jobs. My thought on this is The Cat doesn’t have any unitaskers, why should I? Well, ok there is that wine siphon he uses for racking his wine, but his argument for a good and drinkable wine, is a valid argument in my book… so I let it slide. Hey now, back to that banana slicer! Ten bucks to slice a banana, I don’t know how my mother ever managed to slice them onto mine and my brothers cereal when we were kids without one of these gems! Now if only I knew how to get into that darned banana…..Et Voila! No kidding, a banana opening tool, no, it doesn’t peel it, you still have to do that, it’s this silly thing that pops the long piece on the top so you can open it the rest of the way with ease….EASE I TELL YOU! Myself, I just pinch the bottom like a monkey and the skin pops off the damned banana in one piece…..My guess is the monkeys would turn the banana opening tool into an ass scratcher but that’s just a guess on my part. They had tools to crush fruit on the bottom of a glass, a cherry/olive pitter, and avocado all in one tool, melon knife, pineapple corer slicer and dicer, apple corer slicer, and a tomato knife….and except for crushing fruit on the bottom of a glass, I can do the rest with a chefs knife….I’m not sure why you’d crush fruit on the bottom of a glass, The Cat said something about an Old Fashioned, but unless your favorite drink is Jameson and Ginger or beer, you’re gonna be SOL at my house, you wanna crush some fruit at my house, I suggest you use a fork or tablespoon.
So defeated, I looked at all the different premade foods. Chutney, fancy flavored mayos, dressings, sauces… all stuff I am particular about, and know how to make myself. I’m not against premade or processed foods. Hell the whole inside of the door on the fridge is loaded with premade mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, oyster sauce, so on and so forth… but I’ll bet I didn’t spend ten or twelve dollars for any of them either. I saw that they had towels, oven mitts, aprons and such…. but I have those things as well and didn’t pay a king’s ransom to get them. So what did I end up getting? I got two cookbooks, One on New England cusine, and one on soups….I ended up giving them as gifts to other friends. I’m not sure they would have fit in next to LaRousse Gastronomique, Le Guide Culinaire or my Pro Chef 8th Edition on the bookshelf…Plus anybody who knows me, knows I am not much on recipe’s but most people are….I’m glad I got the gift certificate as it saved me a few bucks on gifts for a few cibo friends… but maybe next year he should just get me a toothbrush and some concrete.
Have a Happy!