Okay, okay I know I sound snarky. I shouldn't be because I actually liked his piece in the Times which is about how you don't have to spend a fortune on equipment to cook like most pros. (I'm not talking Ferran Adria or Grant Achatz here.)
Anyone who has cooked in a restaurant knows that most of us use really cheap pots and pans and yes, even knives. But I wonder about some of the items in a list of what he calls "The Inessentials"
Here is his list. My comments are in Italics. The Bittman article is HERE.
YOU can live without these 10 kitchen items:
I could not agree more. Bread machines are stupid.
MICROWAVE If you do a lot of reheating or fast (and damaging) defrosting, you may want one. But essential? No. And think about that counter space!
Wrong, wrong, wrong. I'd give up my cutting board (which I made myself, by the way) before I'd lose my microwave. It is extremely useful for bringing things up to temp quickly, and I use it a lot to heat up a dish that may have sat off the fire for too long before service. And can anyone tell me a better way to reheat coffee?
STAND MIXER Unless you’re a baking fanatic, it takes up too much room to justify it. A good whisk or a crummy handheld mixer will do fine.
If a baking fanatic is someone who likes to make bread once a month than perhaps he's right. But kneading bread by hand is really boring unless you smoke pot -I don't anymore.
BONING/FILLETING KNIVES Really? You’re a butcher now? Or a fishmonger? If so, go ahead, by all means. But I haven’t used my boning knife in years. (It’s pretty, though.)
He's right. No one really needs more than a chef's knife and a bread knife.
WOK Counterproductive without a good wok station equipped with a high-B.T.U. burner. (There’s a nice setup at Bowery Restaurant Supply for $1,400 if you have the cash and the space.)
He's right, wok = waste. There are few things that you do in a wok that you cannot do in a saute pan.
STOCKPOT The pot you use for boiling pasta will suffice, until you start making gallons of stock at a time.
Right again. But I'm beginning to wonder why I care.
PRESSURE COOKER It’s useful, but do you need one? No.
Weird comment coming from the man who became famous for his rapid minimalist approach to cooking. I don't own one of course, but I'm a slow food guy (and a member of Slow Food)
ANYTHING MADE OF COPPER More trouble than it’s worth, unless you have a pine-paneled wall you want to decorate.
I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Most of my pots and pans are copper. I don't mind cleaning them, they preform beautifully and they are so well made that I know I'm never going to have to replace them. But I suppose they aren't essential. So okay, he's right.
RICE COOKER Yes, if you eat rice twice daily. Otherwise, no.
What's a rice cooker? LOL
COUNTERTOP CONVECTION OVEN, ROTISSERIE, OR “ROASTER” Only if you’re a sucker for late-night cooking infomercials.
Now how is Ron Popeil going to afford to retire if people stop buying counter top ovens? Shame on you Mark Bittman!
Lastly I, del Grosso, would like to add something to the list: food processor. No one who knows how to use a knife, a meat grinder or a blender really needs one of these things. Most food processors are very blunt instruments that tear food to shreds, suck for purees and take up too much room. The commercial types are great for making forcemeat but they are pretty pricey.
Here's a funny story; slightly off topic.
One morning I asked the extern to get a bucket of peeled shallots from the walk-in and chop them in the Robot Coupe (food processor) for lunch service. In the meantime, I said, I was going to go up to the bar and call in some orders for meat and produce. About ten minutes pass and the extern comes up to the bar to ask me something so I ask him about the shallots.
"They aren't done yet" he says. Bam! I hang up the phone and I'm like. "Are you nuts? They're going to stink! You're not making puree! Jesus Christ do you know how long it took to peel those things?"
So I storm back to the kitchen with him trailing behind me looking like he's going to cry and what the hell do I find?
The shallots whirling around in the ice cream machine.