Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Mystery Kitchen Gadget

We found something remarkable in the kitchen “junk drawer”; it’s something that was left over from Grandma’s long tenure in this house.

I found it when I was fishing around for our melon ballers (yes, we have two—ours, newer, duller, with a plastic handle, and one from Grandma, that’s pleasantly sharp and has a real wooden handle).

So I discovered this thing and thought: What the hell is this for?

It’s like a deeply serrated steak knife whose blade has been bent into the shape of a hook.

It made me think of those circular metal curry combs that horse people use.

I suspected it would be great for scraping the seeds and strings from the inside of a pumpkin . . . but I doubted that was its intended use. Not when doing that job is so fun with your bare hands.

Hmmm. Clues: There were German words stamped on the blade. “Rostfrei,” it said on one side—and that means “stainless” (literally, “rust free”). Well, duh—it was in this drawer for decades, no doubt, and didn’t have any rust on it, so there you go.

The other side had more words stamped into the metal: “VOR GEBRAUCH ZAHNUNG IN HEISSES WASSER EINTAUCHEN.” Which Babelfish semi-translates into “dive before use teething into hot water.” . . . Now that I know what it is (thanks to the Internet), I can tell you what this really means: “Dip the blade into hot water before use.”

That’s your biggest clue right there! The same Google search that taught me the German phrase is what provided me the answer. It was on a “What is it?” forum sponsored by eBay.

Are you ready?

It’s a butter curler.

Yep, a genuinely overly specific product. (And here you thought your iced-tea maker, or that crazy “banana hanger,” was the supreme one-trick pony of the kitchen!)

Here’s how it works: You warm the blade in the hot water, then drag it across the top of a stick of butter. The butter can’t be too cold, or the curls will crack. And of course, the butter can’t be too warm, either, for obvious reasons.

As they are formed, the butter curls are dropped carefully into a bowl of ice water so that they keep their shape, along with the pretty striations caused by the blade’s teeth.

Pretty neat, huh? . . . And just pretty.

This gadget was invented before people learned that butter is pure evil!

Ha, ha, ha.

Now I might have to have another party!


JaneL said...

Those butter curls are so cute. I'm glad you figured out what that gadget is. What fun to have a junk drawer with junk that predates your own. When we replaced our old kitchen cabinets we put the old junk drawer in the basement and started a new one. When moved we literally brought the old junk drawer with us. It's still in the basement.

Julie said...

So Jane, do you ever go down to the basement's junk drawer to hunt for things? I hope you have good light down there! It would be scary to fish through a kitchen junk drawer in the dark.

I didn't say anything about it, but my grandma also left behind a lovely variety of bottle and wine openers--church keys, bar blades, a pretty nice waiter's friend, a couple of ah-so's (aka butler's friend or twin prong), and a variety of corkscrews, themselves of various vintages. It's like a history of bartending in there.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just bought one of these at a second hand store!! I love this thing and now that I know what to do with it.... so much the better. I still think it would be great for squash cleaning, too!

Julianna Schroeder said...

Good for you! I hope you get a lot of use out of it . . . one way or another! Thank you for commenting.