The Joys of the Mortar and Pestle

William Abranowicz

Like everyone else, former SAVEUR staffer Christopher Hirsheimer fell in love with food processors, noting, "They made me a better cook. I easily turned out silky sauces, soups, purees. But I've gone backward with machines. They run too fast for me now. They make too much noise. The only noise I want in my kitchen these days is laughter. Maybe that's why, as we tested recipes for our Provence and Oaxaca stories, I fell in love all over again with the mortar and pestle. Grinding by hand gets you back in touch with the process of cooking. Making aioli, you look at those lumps of garlic and think, 'This won't work—it'll never get smooth.' Then, as a few grains of coarse salt rub against the side of the mortar, you see the garlic begin to break down. I mean you see it. You smell it. You control it. Then you slide the egg yolk into the creamy paste and watch it change color. It's a show I don't want to miss."