Friday, December 14, 2007

I wasn't going to do a 2nd annual post on gifts for cooks, but . . .

according to my beloved StatCounter, a disconcerting number of you are in the market for a pair of fancy dishwashing gloves. (These misguided souls among us are landing on this post from July 2006, which does not endorse fancy or proletariat dishwashing gloves. I suspect they're looking for something like this. I've been reading a lot of Evelyn Waugh lately and I've been so, so good in not repeating the phrase "sick-making" as often as Agatha Runcible, but: those things are too sick-making to crumple into a ball under one's sink, let alone wear.) If you need to buy a gift for a cook or—ugh, hate this word—a foodie, and you've already considered the suggestions I posted last Christmas, here are some more presents I would not return:

For the cook who has a healthy appetite for both cheese and kitsch, a fromage board and knife ($40 for both).

For the cook whose "cooking" is limited to making tea, a shiny gold teapot ($27 for 1-liter size and $33 for the 1 1/2-liter);

a sugar shaker named "sweet talker" (£29; let's not think about how many $$);

and a couple of graph paper mugs that might inspire post-tea scribbling ($12.95 each).

Or, if your tea drinker has been caught with their pinky in the air, a pair of grey-brown cups and saucers with gold rims to match the teapot ($28 per set).

For the cook who is basically competent but slightly inattentive, an adorable milk saver ($29).

It's not often that I cook something that requires me to heat up milk or cream, but nearly every time I have I've gone beyond scalding. The problem is that it can go from a gentle simmer to a volcanic mess in just a few seconds, and as that's happening it doesn't make any noise. You can't set a timer, either, because you don't know how long it will take. The solution is a milk saver, a little ceramic disk that rattles against the bottom of your pan just as the simmering begins. This one's got a brilliant red flag, to catch even a glazed-over eye.

For the cook who needs to work on having more friendly thoughts about pigs and fewer covetous thoughts about bacon, a pink salt pig with ears and, reportedly, a curly tail ($7.95).

For the cook who you don't know very well but want to buy a little gift for, a set of gleaming gelato spoons ($2.49 each). A cheap gift indeed, so you'd better at least tie them up with some thrillingly gaudy ribbon ($1.80 per yard).

For the cook who, when they're not cooking, eats even more toast and yogurt than you think they do, a bird-like honey pot ($44)

Or, if you've got more scratch to spend, a set of porcelain Mad Hatter dishes to hold jam, sugar, etc. ($250). Who doesn't want to be reminded of Hatty Town while having breakfast?

For the cook with raggedy post-it notes sticking out of their favorite cookbooks, Mark my Words for Cooks ($5.95) a kit for flagging recipes one would like to try, or tried and loved, or tried and hated.

For the cook who has knocked over countless glasses of red wine while getting dinner ready, stubby, old-fashioned café wine glasses ($40.50 for a set of four) for drinking exactly 23 francs worth of wine without spilling a drop.

For the cook who frequently comes home from the grocery store with a big bag of lumpy lemons, a lemon seed necklace ($280) or a copy of The Golden Lemon ($14.95). I have this book and I haven't tried any of the recipes yet but they're almost all appealing.

For the cook who has occasionally served you over-cooked pasta, a stainless steel spaghetti tester ($48). I'm not sure exactly where I stand on this—I can think of better uses for $48—but if someone gave me one I'd end up using it.

For the vegan, an obscure Dutch vegan cookbook ($12). I'm curious about the "Devilled Eggplant in Tulips."

For the Anglophile baker, a "Made in England" rolling pin (£39).

Finally, for any cook with ambitions beyond a single burner, a fancy new timer ($29.95). Said cook might set up to four independent timers at once (!!) and the numbers are BIG. The result could only be a happier relationship between arroz and frijoles.