|My traditional nutmeg grinder, and my new one, a little blue puff fish.|
The year we rented an apartment in Paris was the year I learned that one does not need cabinets and drawers full of gadgets to cook delicious meals. The kitchen in our apartment was half the size of my own and was stocked with only the basics. Still we ate well, thanks to the availability of fresh produce at the markets on Rue Cler.
Our Paris kitchen was stocked with a nutmeg grinder and a small jar of whole nutmegs, and when I made apple crisp, I made it with freshly ground nutmeg. It was wonderfully layered in flavor, but I'm not sure it that was a function of the nutmeg, or because my husband and I were eating it in Paris. Both, I suspect.
At any rate, when we came home I dug up an old-fashioned nutmeg grater at a flea market, cleaned it, which took a great deal of patience, and have been using it ever since. But recently I found this cunning little little puffer-fish-shaped nutmeg grater at Tellus Mater on State Street in Madison, Wis., the city I think of as my second hometown. It reminds me of this tool, which is attractive as well as useful.
I like this nutmeg plane and this charming little video, which makes it look so easy: no knuckle grazing.
Nutmeg pairs well with apple, pumpkin and squash dishes as well as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage dishes. (However tasty nutmeg is, apparently it has a somewhat dark history.)
Like mace, nutmeg is a product of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), a large evergreen which grows in the Spice Islands, also known as the Moluccas, in Indonesia. Nutmeg is the kernel of the seed, while mace is the leathery flesh of surrounding it (its composition compares to the apricot). Mace is milder and more expensive.
Read more about nutmeg here and here.
There are many different nutmeg grinders on the market, from this updated classic to this more elaborate model.
Then there is this one, which is almost a work of art.