This week’s Saturday Afternoon Pizza Post was going to be about the Netflix series, Chef’s Table: Pizza. But I can’t do it. It’s too long. It’s too cumbersome. I’m too overwhelmed by the brooding, self-important filmmaking that makes tortured souls of these fantastic professionals who deserve to be portrayed as joyful and excited. It was making me brooding and angst-ridden. And you don’t want to make you read that.
The easiest recommendation about the series is this: watch episode #1 and take inspiration from Chris Bianco. He is a pizza God who brings joy to the series. And his canned tomatoes are excellent.
Instead, I’m doing a U-turn today. I’ve put Netflix on the back burner. Instead, I’m going to talk about something that brings me joy. And if you’re someone who loves using good tools that function well, you will find joy here as well. And perhaps there will be blood.
I was sick of my box graters. I grate a lot of cheese. I’m tired of box graters that just don’t act like they want to do the job. They’re phoning it in. They’re working from home in their pajamas. They’re not doing the job they were hired to do. Too often, I end up grating away my fingertips and spraying blood around the kitchen.
These box graters just don’t grate well. I’ve got three box graters here. (Don’t ask.) And they all suck. So I went nuts. In a sudden pique of cheese-grater madness, I did a search for the best box grater out there because it was not in my home.
I found it and it’s expensive. That’s right: the list price is $42. (I paid the bargain price of 39.44!) But such a premium for a grater that does the job without complaining and just shreds up a storm of low-moisture mozzarella strands, well, my friend, that is worthwhile.
This thing is such a beast that there are warnings on Amazon of how dangerous this grater is. Seriously. It’s in the user reviews: “More dangerous than it needs to be.” Or, “This thing is dangerously SHARP.” And my favorite, “Sharp as a bunch of little fresh razorblades.”
Some knucklehead was so concerned about the danger factor of this box grater that he took a wirebrush and sandpaper to it and dulled the blades. “Works great now!” No it doesn’t. You, my friend, are an unsafe user of sharp knives. You are clearly the reason why your kitchen can’t have nice, sharp, dangerous things. When the cheese hits the fan, I do not want you or your box grater in my foxhole.
But the smartest comment I’ve read is this: “The most dangerous items in the kitchen are dull edge tools. I was constantly scraping my fingers and knuckles with my old, dull grater.”
Yes! THAT is insight. And in a nutshell, that was me. I’m tired of blood on the cutting board. (I'm thankful it’s usually mine.)
So I ordered this thing, danger and all. In fact, let’s call it the Big Cheese Danger Box.
My wife and I returned home from the gym yesterday, and there was a big box on the back porch. Just like Christmas without all the decorations and reindeer poop. I took the box straight inside, opened the box, and indeed: it was a box full of the Big Cheese Danger Box box grater.
I whipped that baby out, peeled off the plastic protector sheets, and washed it thoroughly as per the universal instructions about new food preparation and serving items. I dried it with my favorite new kitchen towels. (Those will be in another post because they are fantastic.)
Then, I flung open the French doors on the fridge (which is way too easy to do when you’re in the throes of unbridled enthusiasm). I grabbed a block of whole milk low moisture mozzarella cheese, sliced open the wrapper using a deadly-sharp knife (yet did so without cutting myself), and began grating away on the Big Cheese Danger Box.
The grating was as glorious as you might imagine. In mere seconds, I had transformed a block of cheese into a pizza-ready pile of stringy shreds. Oh, joy!
Quickly, I raced back to the fridge and almost threw the door of its hinges, so strong was my mania to grate more cheese. I grabbed a block of Parmigiano Reggiano, turned the grater around, and BAM—in mere seconds, fine shreds of The King Of Cheeses. (The King is finely shredded! Long live The King!)
Of course, there’s that side of the grater that nobody ever thinks about: the slicer blade. This side of the Big Cheese Danger Box looked so sharp and so fine that I ran to the pantry and hunted down a small potato. I ran back to the Big Cheese Danger Box and began whacking that potato into potato-chip sized slices. It was glorious!
So glorious, in fact, that I didn’t even care that in my grating frenzy, I had grated a tiny flap of skin from my right thumb. Ignoring the fact that I was now bleeding profusely all over the kitchen counter, I threw a carbon steel pan on the range top, turned on a raging hot BTU inferno, heated some canola oil to shimmering, and threw those bad boys into the fat.
In just minutes, perfect potato chips! Covered in blood, yes, but who cares? This is not Chopped. None of the judges are pushing away my plate because somewhere in that stew floats a healthy serving of my blood along with a fingertip or two. No sirree Ted!
This is my kitchen. My blood. My rules. A quick shower of overpriced salt across those tantalizing tubers and voila! Fantastic potato chips. Maybe Zapp’s will market this taste sensation: “New! Zapp’s Bayou Blood Moon Grator Tators!” I can see it now.
My wife helped me eat the potato chips. (She’s strong. She’s seen my blood before.) I washed up the Big Cheese Danger Box grater, dried it, and locked it away in a child-proof drawer.
And I now tell you, if you care, there’s a new box grater in town. But you will not find it under the Big Cheese Danger Box. But as an alternative, you can search for the next best thing (or click on the link to) The Cuispro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Boxed Grater. It's not a Big Cheese Danger Box, but it's probably safer if only because of the name. (The preceding review is largely fiction. No actual fingers were harmed in the testing. As far as you know.)
Be responsible. Please do not take the safety of your fingertips into your own hands. DISCLOSURE: know that if you click that link and buy anything, Amazon will pay me a meager percentage of the dollars you're spending at no additional cost to you. (I am an Amazon affiliate. I hope that one day we have a 12-step program and a support group for that.)
Free The Pizza!
Blaine Parker (AKA The Pizza Geek) is fanatical about the idea that true, professional-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After two decades of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks who want to pizza. Blaine is also the author of the new, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza!
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