Ten Thousand Years of the Mortar and Pestle

A good, albeit slightly geeky, read.

Thanks, MZ!

“But by applying muscle to transform ingredients into paste or powder, the mortar and pestle help the cook form a bond with his or her food. These two tools on the shelf, inseparable partners, promise work, intimacy, and an elegant testament to the staying power of simple things.”

Yes! The same can be said for many simple, manual tools. My recently-acquired vintage manual coffee mill is another excellent example. No electricity, no plastic, no heat, no noise–just the feel and smell that involve the drinker with the coffee.

Great read. In searching for more information, I came across this article on how to choose and use Thai Morar and Pestle.

a young woman … [was] being evaluated by the rhythm of the pounding of the pestle…, the rhythm of her pounding the pestle against the mortar in the process of making curry paste from scratch (which can be heard from afar) would be a telltale sign of her culinary skill, or lack thereof.

In general, if you want to pound something to a fine paste, you use a granite mortar; if you want to lightly bruise or mix something, as in the case of Som Tam (Thai papaya salad), you use the terracotta or wooden mortar. Again, the fastest way to lose your credibility as a Thai chef is to be seen pounding raw papaya to death in a granite mortar; it’s just not done.

I have a ceramic one from Ikea that I rarely use. I don’t it’s because I don’t like this method, or I don’t like a ceramic mortar or I don’t like the Ikea design or I am just lazy.

Do you have one, do you like using it?

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold