SelectionToday, “La Matinale” takes to the stoves and takes you to meet a wide variety of very useful tools for working with food.
Roll out a pancake batter, place cream puffs, prepare the couscous semolina… There is an instrument for each gesture. We tell you all about the history and usefulness of five utensils.
The pestle and the mortar
Their story. It is supposed that it was the hunter-gatherers, in the Paleolithic, who first had the idea of grinding food to modify its texture – as evidenced by the traces of fermented cereals found in mortars dug into the rock of ‘a prehistoric cave in northern Israel. We know, thanks to the texts left by Apicius and Cato the Elder, that the cooks and apothecaries of ancient Rome had recourse to pestle and mortar for a good number of culinary recipes and pharmaceutical preparations.
“Both utensils can be used as a means of communication. For example, we put the pestle and the mortar upside down in the house to signify mourning, or we offer the newlyweds these two objects as a foreshadowing of happiness. »Aïssatou Mbaye
Combined, pestle and mortar form one of the most complementary pairs of utensils in the history of cooking. Below, the mortar, both round and hollow, heavy and stable, acts as a container. It is made of a resistant and non-porous material such as wood, granite, marble, copper or stainless steel. Above, it is the pestle, a solid and massive cylinder, which extends the hand to crush, crush, emulsify or ointment the seeds, condiments, aromatic herbs, spices and other dried fruits that you want to slide under its rounded base.
From this sustained friction – guided by the rhythm of the wrist – the solid disintegrates into a liquid puree, the grain becomes powder and the flavors of herbs are expressed. From this aromatic waltz is born a whole variety of condiments and flours which serve as starting points for recipes all over the world.
Its use. In Mexico, the aromatic base of the mole is crushed in a molcajete in basalt. In Japan, sesame seeds are crushed in a suribachi ceramic to prepare the gomasio. In Italy, the famous pesto alla genovese is made in a marble mortar. In Senegal, more particularly, the wooden pestle and mortar serve as a common thread in the culinary identity of the country.
“There is not a single Senegalese dish in which we do not involve them, explains Aïssatou Mbaye, author of blog “Aistou cuisine”, devoted to Senegalese cuisine. Whether it’s to crush garlic or onion, prepare nokoss, our national condiment, or grind rice or millet. In some ethnicities, the two utensils can be used as a means of communication. For example, we put the pestle and the mortar upside down in the house to signify mourning, or we offer the newlyweds these two objects as an omen of happiness, to symbolize strength and longevity. “
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