In a Japanese kitchen, form follows function, and in essence, Cool Tools is a tribute to kitchen design. Kate Klippenstein’s book is more than a catalog of utensils: the featured items are handcrafted works of art. Yasuo Konishi’s vivid photos highlight each piece so that the reader can feel the cool touch of the knife blades and the textures of the different graters. There are also revealing photos of old shamoji (rice servers), saibashi (cooking chopsticks) and yukihira nabe (pots) from a variety of households showing that, despite the wear and tear, these tools still have plenty of life left in them.
Klippenstein deftly guides the reader through the use of each tool, sprinkling each entry with interesting details. For example, the kogi (pestle) made from pepper trees, “which adds a hint of fragrance to the food being processed,” and the ceramic clay suribachi (mortar) on which, “traditionally, the grooves… were made with pine needles.”
If you’re motivated to restock your kitchen arsenal, you won’t want to miss “Five Basic Knives Every Household Should Stock.” The indispensable shop guide and list of Japanese terms make Cool Tools the ideal companion for a trip to Kappabashi. And even if you’re allergic to cooking, this handsome book will look smart on any coffee table.
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by Yukari Pratt