I have a thing for mortars and pestles. Part of my fascination, I think, comes from the fact that they’re so utterly primitive. They don’t have a plug. They don’t make motorized noise. They don’t even have a sharp edge. But don’t let the simplistic nature fool you into thinking they’re not useful tools.
I remember the first time I learned what “fond” was. I was in a kitchenware store in New Orleans and Chef Paul Prudhomme stopped by to give an impromptu cooking class. He sautéed some chicken with a spice mix and then picked up the pan and pointed to all the gunk glued to the bottom. “That’s the good stuff.” He chuckled. “That’s where the flavor comes from.” From that day on I stopped fretting when my sautés stuck.
These days, home is a second-story condo with no yard. Instead, we have a sunny, south-facing balcony and a sizable deck, which means our urban farming must be done in containers. Which is all right by me. Even when I lived in houses with yards, I was still more inclined to garden in containers because I’m horticulturally challenged and lazy. Overseeing a few containers just seemed...easier. And it is; even I’ve managed to cultivate pots of vigorous herbs and sweet cherry tomatoes.