Jan 20, 2011

a thing of beauty is a joy forever

this awesome mortar and pestle was a holiday gift from r. carved from a single piece of carrarra marble in italy with brilliant classic looking symmetrical knob handles, and a serious heft to keep it in place no matter what. i love it. i've seen antique ones that look exactly the same. i've wanted one for ages. only problem is, it is so beautiful i am afraid to use it.

it seems more like a classical sculpture than a hardworking kitchen tool. i use a mortar and pestle a couple of times a month: to make a garlic chile cilantro paste, in vietnamese or thai dishes, to make a spice paste for biryani, to make sesame paste for japanese dishes, or salsa for mexican and central american dishes. oh such culinary adventures we will have together. i suppose you could say the discoloration and stains and scratches will only enhance it over time, and that a storied life is probably the very best kind, far better than gathering dust on a shelf.

time to break it in then, no more sitting up on the shelf watching the days go idly by for you dear mortar.


  1. It really is beautiful and I can see why you are hanging back from using it for the first time but you are right, these things are made to be used..... and it will be a joy to pound your spices and herbs in such style!

  2. I invested in a couple of beautiful copper pots in the 80's, and was afraid to use them but my kitchen was too small to have objets d′art occupying space. I remember spending hours polishing them to their original pristine sparkle. The first ding in a lid was worse than the first scratch on a new car! Eventually I came to hate the smell of the copper polish, and the messy black cloths, and found other things to do with my time. Now, the copper is dull and a bit dark—but beautifully revealing their usefulness. Sort of like me: a few scars and wrinkles, but still the same person. (especially when I look in the mirror without my glasses)