In My Life in France, Julia Child describes falling for a massive marble mortar and pestle "about the size and weight of a baptismal font." Her dutiful husband, Paul, staggered with it through a Parisian market to their car, which "positively slumped and wheezed." I don't have room for a mega-mortar, and my husband has a bad back, but I've happily settled for the diminutive Japanese suribachi. This glazed earthenware bowl has sharp ridges on the inside, which make it ideal for grinding sesame seeds or small amounts of herbs, as well as making pastes. The accompanying pestle, called a surikogi, is made of wood.