Kitchen shops are filled with work- and time-saving gizmos, and heaven knows I've bought my fair share over the years. Most of them have ended up as drawer food. But when we started cutting and slicing potatoes for our story on french fries, I dug around and pulled out an old friend—my sturdy, nickel-plated, stainless-steel French mandoline. I thought it was wildly expensive when I bought it 20 years ago (over a hundred bucks even then!), but it turned out to be well worth the investment. It cuts piles of fries in minutes, magically yields lacy waffle chips, and evenly slices potatoes for perfect pommes soufflees.