The Spatula Also Stirs
Iconically speaking, the chef's knife is the symbol of a chef, at least in modern times. Chefs are typically pictured holding a large knife, menacingly, as if to intimidate us and insinuate that they are badasses with the knife and can cut garlic into itsy-bitsy pieces. Hooray for that. Seriously, my Henckel's chef knife is one of my most prized kitchen possessions. I feel at one with it when I slice, dice, and chop. It is perfectly weighted, and I feel like it is almost an extension of my own arm when I use it.
But when it comes to one the most useful, the chef knife does not even compare to the mighty spatula. The spatula is the bard of the kitchen. It is the jack of all trades. It quietly does its duties around the kitchen and doesn't complain. It sings is one lone song while that beautiful knife blade gets all the glory.
Well, the time has come for people to recognize the spatula for what it is. It's time for the spatula to RISE UP and take its place as the head of all kitchen utensils. No more wallowing in the utensil drawer with its brothers and sisters, you know. All those silicone, plastic, baking, wooden, and multitude of variations. Cast aside your cousin, the wooden spoon and RISE UP! RISE UP and cast aside your inhibitions. You are on the front lines of the battle for kitchen supremacy, and you will not be ignored!
Did I get a little too worked up, there? There are reasons why chef's knives get all the glory and the lowly spatula is the second cousin. Chef knives are good looking and flashy. They've been doing their pilates and pretty much just live in the spotlight. But the spatula takes a back back seat because it is utilitarian. Most home chefs have more than one spatula, and some have many spatulas in many different forms. It is just so easy to open any drawer near the prep area or the stove and grab the nearest spatula. Heck, there are some times when my dish really requires a two spatula method over the stove.
The Chef knife may get all the glory, and it may be sleek and beautiful, but with the usage of silicone in kitchen ware, the spatula is making a rise to the top. They are coming in under the radar, and I'm not so sure that the knife is ready for the fight.
The point is, spatula manufacturers have recently caught on to the trend of making their products look good as well as work good. Some have taken Apple Computer's lead by colorizing the spatula heads. Others have made theirs beautiful as well as sleek and professional looking. For instance, check out this nice model from Kitchen Aid. KitchenAid even has a full line of silicone spatulas and scrapers.
I've been talking about spatula scrapers a lot, but when it comes to flippers, the OXO brand has been putting out this popular model for years. It's great for flipping delicate foods in a non stick pan.
In my kitchen I prefer to use a flat, wooden spatula over the cooktop. I've had it for a long time, and the straight angled edges are perfect for scraping down the sides of skillets. But when it comes to baking, my preference is the flexible rubber spatula heads from Rubbermaid. They are sturdy, but not rigid. It makes them perfect for scraping down the curved sides of mixing bowls, especially for sticky liquids.
Whatever your preference is for spatula, I recommend having more than one type and medium in your kitchen. While Alton Brown might not approve of the uni-tasking that some spatulas do, I believe that there is a right tool for every job. And if that right tool is going to help you perform your kitchen duties better, then it might as well be that uni-tasker lurking in your drawer.
Just don't tell the chef's knife about all the dazzling colors of modern spatulas. I just have no desire to see a lime green Santoku on the store shelves.