Sometimes, in pursuit of a better life, I turn to the ads on Instagram, because the world is always better there. It has the gloss you get off a coffee table that’s just had a polish after a spray of Mr Sheen. When you look at Instagram you hope to see your own face reflected back at you, only prettier. For here are an array of devices specifically engineered to make working in the kitchen a more blissful experience; a place where you can cook un-aproned in a white shirt and never get stained; where your hair will always be glossy, and your mood so serene that Buddhist monks will tap you up for wisdom. I trust Instagram. Perhaps, as Mother’s Day is upon us, you have considered having a browse here too for gifts. Because as we all know, it’s the thoughtlessness that counts.
A chef friend of mine has a cast-iron rule that no gadget in his kitchen can have a single use. His rice cooker is also a slow cooker. The toastie maker can be used to grill vegetables. The frying pan can be used to smack intruders across the head, and so on.
While I understand the decluttering instinct, this is to miss out on some life enhancing fabulousness. For example, until I saw it for myself on Instagram, I didn’t know there was a moulded yellow plastic cuff called the Chef’n Cob Corn Stripper solely designed to get the kernels off ears of corn. Oh, what sweet corn kernel-stripping joy we could have together.
Inevitably, I started scrolling. I was thrilled to come across the wonder of non-stick silicone kitchen spatula tongs. They have a little hammock of flexible silicone in fluorescent green, between the ends of the tongs so you can, I don’t know, rock your vegetables to sleep while you lift them out of the pan.
Not interested? How about the metal plunging tube that is the pineapple corer. To meet my pal’s ban on single-use items, I’m sure you could carry out a non-elective full-frontal lobotomy on an annoying family member with it, so there’s that.
Not for you? Then surely you want the Chef’n Stalkchop Cauliflower Prep Tool for getting the stalks out of cauliflowers. And only cauliflowers. Because using a knife would be so pre-social media. Or a pizza cutter in which the round blade is the wheel of a mini bicycle. Or a garlic crusher shaped like a kind of giant knuckle duster, which you rock back and forth over the cloves, while sustaining a beatific grin on your stupid face.
I blink. All of a sudden I am back in my own kitchen which doesn’t have a cauliflower corer or a bicycle-shaped pizza cutter. I realise that, as I age, my real-world kitchen-kit desires have become so much simpler. I want a pepper grinder that always works, and not just one that functions for the first three months. I want a cafetiere which doesn’t always dribble when you pour from it. I want a glass measuring jug from which the scale hasn’t rubbed off with time, so that you end up squinting at the measurements on the side like Mr Magoo. That’s it. Nothing more.
Then, like the addict I am, I glance at my phone and see an Instagram advert for a bright orange oval-shaped piece of plastic with holes of different sizes. It costs a mere £10. It’s for stripping the leaves off fresh herbs.
I realise that what I really want is, yes, the functional pepper grinder, the non-drip cafetiere and the age-resistant measuring jug. But also, the herb stripper. That is what will make my kitchen life complete.