My cheese graters are like boyfriends..

A couple of years ago, I had an unfortunate run-in with a cheese grater. The cheese grater won-by a large margin.

I had a severe cut on my thumb knuckle, and I probably should have gone to get stitches. But rather than go to the hospital, I put all of my family and friends through the gruesome experience of an “injury update” regularly. This left my friends and family severely scarred, even more so than my thumb.

Only days after the injury, I also met the man who would become my husband. On one of our very first dates, my thumb knuckle just started pumping blood, drenching the bandages. It was gruesome, but apparently not too much so for my zombie-loving future husband.

5 years later, a wicked scar and an oft-retold story later, my family and friends are STILL giving me “ultimate” cheese grater gifts. My first cheese grater gift came from my husband on our very first Christmas as a married couple. Yes. You read that correctly. Imagine MY shock when the man who up until then had given only jewelry as gifts, presented me with a Sur la Table box (a good start, if you must deviate from jewelry) which held the holy grail of cheese graters. Shortly thereafter, we laid down some mutual marital gift-giving guidelines.

….the many cheese grater characters which have graced my kitchen.  Like old boyfriends they were….

Then, a couple of years later a friend gave me a small hand device she claimed was a cheese grater. She (CLEARLY not a cook OR a cheese aficionado) said she thought it would be easier to handle and therefore, less dangerous. In reality, it was so small that my hands were in the way. But thanks for the thought. Then this year, for Christmas (yet again!) I received another cheese grater, this from my Mom and bearing the “Pampered Chef” label.

All this got me thinking about the many cheese grater characters which have graced my kitchen.  Like old boyfriends they were. Some have left me embittered and wondering their purpose. Others have worked moderately well for a time, but eventually, didn’t make the “cut”. And finally, there is the “husband” of cheese graters. The tried and true. The standby who ended up in my kitchen when I least expected it.

Here are their ratings and stories.

*This is NOT the actual grater I had, but it was this style

The Handgrip Cheesegrater: This cheese grater is like your first boyfriend, you use it because you don’t know any better;  it seems like a good idea at the time. Plus, it wasn’t that hard to find,  it fits nicely in a drawer without crowding out your other kitchen gadget friends and can go in the dishwasher. It was meant to be be, right? With all due respect to my first boyfriend, this cheese grater was about as potent.  The handheld grater was poorly made and eventually, started to show signs of rust. Curiously, when using this hand held cheese grater the more pressure you use, the harder it is to do it, because you are working AGAINST yourself; its as awkward as other “first-time” experiences. Like the first boyfriend, this one is likely to leave you hurt and wary of other graters.  For the simple reason that it is a learning experience, I give it one kiss.

the one-night stand of cheese graters

The Hand-held Cheese Grater: This snazzy number is all show and no “go”. Its sort of like the booty call  or the rebound relationship of cheese graters. Its only purpose it to get you through the night and its barely good at that.  Memorable only for the fact that it doesn’t last long, if you know what I mean and the creepy pedi-egg shape is entirely unappetizing, leaving you with that hung-over, morning after, sick in the stomach feeling that there has to be a better way.  One kiss simply because I  tried and have the story to tell.

Zyliss Cheese Grater

"cool guy" Zyliss

The Zyliss Cheese Grater: Owning one of these is kind’a like dating the cool guy. Everyone wants one! All the rage 20 years ago (when I was working in restaurants) they were the “must have” cheese grater, especially if you like Parmesan on your salad, pasta, etc. Much like the over-hyped popular, guy I thought it was “meh.” Unlike the popular guy, this DID go in the dishwasher, though it left it a little drippy.  It didn’t fit in with my overcrowded drawer filled with ho-hum kitchen accessories and I finally got sick of cutting cheese so that it would “fit in” to the needs of the Zyliss. It did twirl me around a pasta dish or two though and the “dish” is true, it lasted awhile.  Alternately, like cool guy – when it dulled, I decided that I’d seen enough…and continued on my quest for the perfect cheese grater, even if it wasn’t as popular. One kiss for looks, one kiss for functionality and one kiss for longevity.

The live-in boyfriend of the crowd

Pampered Chef Cheese Grater: This cheese grater is the live-in boyfriend who you never married of the crowd. By the time you are using this grater, you know a little bit about what you are looking for and you are willing to go to a party to meet it. Actually, calling this a cheese grater is a little bit like calling your live-in your husband, because its more of a multi-tasker. This noncommittal bad-boy can also be used to grate ginger, nuts and other food items. It has a cozy niche in which to put said food products that will keep your grating on task and keep your knuckles safety insulated.  This grater folds up nicely in the drawer without crowding out your other kitchen gadget friends, of course its dish washer safe and I expect it to last a looooong time. It has a sturdy base with skid-free gripping, and yet, like the live-in who won’t commit, I’m always afraid its going to slide out from underneath the pressure. Yet, this cheese grater is so useful, its doubtful I’ll kick it to the curb until it really lets me down. Four kisses.

The husband of the cheese grater gang

the husband of the cheese grater bunch

Cuisipro Cheese Grater: You know the saying that love always comes when you least expect it? Well, such is this cheese grater. With a solid base, a handle with a grip on reality and a transparent center which can hold anything you throw into it, this is the grand daddy of them all: the husband of cheese graters. Even soul-mate husbands and cheese graters aren’t perfect, and the Cuisipro one doesn’t like to share space with the other kitchen gadgets in the drawer, it demands to be stored standing up, with the other high-end kitchen equipment, but like the husband, it deserves to be treated with respect and is well worth the extra effort.  While it knows its place in the cheese grater hierarchy, it plays nice with the other items, and respects the cheese. This cheese grater is sturdy and reliable and no matter the need, ready to please, the three-sided tower has different size grating and the “box” style captures the cheese (there is even a clear, removable base) so there isn’t any unneeded mess.  Like any good guy, this grater thinks of your needs and plans ahead. After many years of abuse, it holds up like a pro.  As with any good relationship, this grater works with you, not against you and because its so stable, its a total protector-of the knuckles that is.  Its a keeper, even when it comes your way unexpectedly on Christmas morning in a Sur la Table box.

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About Tara DeWitt Coomans

An aspiring cook and an accomplished eater, Tara is inspired by the world around her and the food on her plate. "When you can't jump on a plane and take a vacation to an exotic destination, chances are you can whip up a dish or go to a restaurant that will take you there." says Tara. She often eats out at a restaurant after trying to accomplish a given dish at home. None the less, she enjoys food and what it says about the human experience. Tara is a full-time freelance writer and blogger. She specializes in writing about food, cooking and travel. You can find her in the kitchen, on the plane or at her computer.