In Praise of Blenders
“Long live human-powered kitchen tools!” Thus I ended my most recent post, where I talked about two such tools: the food mill and the potato ricer. Lest I pass for a technophobic person, let me here sing the praise of an electrical kitchen tool.
Before I add something to my kitchen (and to my life in general), I want to be sure that I will use it. A few years ago, I became convinced that I could use an immersion blender. Indeed, since the day it arrived, it has been put to work often enough to justify its purchase.
In the vegetable soup department, my mother made the classic Italian soup minestrone di verdure, which is certainly a thing of beauty, an artful medley of vegetables, potatoes and borlotti beans. Only rarely did she purée cooked vegetables to make passato di verdure. As a child, I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing the pieces of vegetables in my soup bowl, nor tasting the various textures: I would have preferred to always have passato di verdure. I carried the preference for smooth soups into my adult age.
Before owning an immersion blender, I rarely made soup. My first attempt at using the food processor to purée a soup ended in a spill of hot liquid that I did not want to repeat. Enter the immersion blender and I now make soup once (sometimes twice) a week. I make homemade stock (mostly chicken, but also vegetable), so preparing soup is basically a matter of deciding which vegetables to use. The choice depends on the season. Right now, with sweet corn and zucchini being in plentiful supply, my favorite soups to make are the two shown above.
Shortly after acquiring my immersion blender, I learned why in Italy it is sometimes called a minipimer. In an article in Italian (referencing one in Spanish), I read about industrial designer Gabriel Lluelles (Barcelona, 1923), who designed the minipimer, first produced in 1959. The name of the appliance comes from the company Pimer (Pequeñas Industrias Mecánico Eléctricas Reunidas). Braun, with which Pimer merged, still makes a series of immersion blenders called Minipimer (for the Spanish and Italian markets; in other countries, they are called Multiquick). In this presentation of an exhibition of Lluelles’ designs, the minipimer is described as “mythical.”
I wield my immersion blender for more than soup: with it, I purée cooked fruit for preserves (conserve) and roasted apples for apple sauce (salsa di mele), to name just two great uses.
The beauty of the immersion blender is that you can use it without having to move the food to the processor bowl. You still need to exercise caution to avoid splattering food, which may be hot, but once you get used to using the immersion blender, there is no going back.
Hear the pronunciation of the Italian words in this article spoken by me: