I nearly ended up disliking lemon zesters but had a lucky escape.
I hate garlic presses. Utterly pointless devices that do the job they are designed for far, far worse than one can so easily manage with a proper chef’s knife and a chopping board. That’s if they even work at all. Almost every garlic press I have ever encountered has been very deficient when it comes to crushing garlic… the one thing I might have hoped it could help me with.. It’s a whole, ugly bulky implement designed solely for the crushing of garlic and at least 90% of the time, they can’t even do that.. the holes are too small or too big or the crusher doesn’t fit the press properly and the semi crushed cloves squirt out the side. Even the best ones leave most of the garlic behind.
A quick chop, crush and scrape with a wide-bladed knife has got your garlic into the meal before you have even located the garlic press at the back of the implement draw. Assuming then that it isn’t one of those even more ridiculous multi-part devices that you have to find all the pieces for (some hope) and reassemble before use.
And then having been such a faffing hopeless lack of help in the crushing of garlic, to add insult to injury you then have to wash the bloody thing. Great.. several minutes of scrubbing and poking to try and get the little bits stuck between it’s teeth or in it’s grills.
There should be a law against garlic presses.. NO, there should several laws against garlic presses. In fact, I would bet you good money that there probably are in France.. a country that takes it’s garlic seriously.
The lemon zester is a similarly specialist implement that it admit I was ready to treat with similar contempt. But as a lesson in the dangers of prejudice, it seems i was basing this potential hatred on an over-extension of my (wholly justified) garlic bad-press and one poor zesting experience.
The zester we had at home, was inherited from one of my grandparents and it was I have to say and meaning them no disrespect, an utter lemon. It made it seem that zesting a lemon was an impossible task. Suggesting that perhaps this was an in-joke of the culinary community. That when a recipe required the zesting of a lemon this was like the newly hired apprentice being sent for a ‘long stand’ or some elbow grease. You would try it a few times and always end up looking foolish, before finally twigging that this joke had been on you the whole time. And in future when you saw that a recipe required ‘the zest of a lemon’ you would smile knowingly and zestily to yourself and pass onto the next ingredient.
But, as I say, this turned out to be an error. That particular lemon zester was horribly blunted from many decades of zesting and had lost it’s edge, lost one might say it’s zest for the job. (I had to say that, you do realise, there was no escape there.)
With some reluctance and suspicion, I happened to try a brand new zester when helping out in another kitchen and the thing worked exactly as advertised. And I am happy to report this has been my continued experience with zesters ever since. They do indeed zest the lemon, i’d go so far as to say they zest all citrus fruits, which puts our monotonous ‘friend’ the garlic press to shame. And comparatively, they are a breeze to clean, swish it around the sink a little and it’s ready to return to implement draw pristine and safe in the knowledge of zesting well done.
Of course, one doesn’t really need a zester, a decent grater would do almost as well.. but don’t be down on them, these little beasts are a joy to have around the home.