What did this expat Italian bring back from the recent trip to her country of origin? Un po' di cose (a number of things): several books (libri), including the most recent Montalbano novel and a Sicilian cookbook, temporarily lost in one of the still unopened boxes that crowd my space; some food items and food-related gifts, which I will describe in future posts; and a grattugia.
I am well aware that a grater is not featured in any 'must bring back from Italy' advisory lists, so why did I occupy precious luggage space with this item? Because I like my parmigiano, pecorino, asiago, etc. freshly grated, but using the food processor for a few tablespoons of cheese seems overkill, and the flat grater I have is not ergonomic. Then there is the issue of making breadcrumbs: pangrattato (literally, grated bread). I find that neither a food processor nor a blender are acceptable tools for this delicate task, and I refuse to buy breadcrumbs. This was the situation until one morning, while visiting my parents in my home town (Perugia), I went grocery shopping with my father.
By making purchases at the supermercato we went to, customers acquire points (punti) that they can use to get certain items for free or at a substantial discount. When I saw the small cheerfully-colored rotary grater on display, I decided I wanted it. My father was happy to oblige me and I walked out of the store with my grattugia, which later found space in my luggage and, finally, in my kitchen.
Turning the handle (manovella) rotates the grating cylinder. The piece of cheese or bread to be grated is inserted in a hole at the top and kept in place by a feeder (not sure if this is the right word, but hopefully you get the idea). The grated material is collected in the small bowl that functions as the base of the hand-powered appliance, so cheese bits and crumbs do not end up scattered around. Finally, the grattugia is easy to disassemble and all the pieces are dishwasher safe.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the grattugia audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]