When I was a kid, my mom bought her parents a beautiful espresso machine for Christmas, knowing how much they loved cappuccinos. She helped them set it up, showed them how to steam milk and pull espresso, and they thanked her profusely for the beautiful gift. Then, they promptly continued to make coffee in their drip pot. The espresso machine was only used when my mom visited and could make the drinks for them. “It’s just so much nicer when you do it,” they said.
Buying your parents or grandparents cooking-related gifts is a gamble. Some might greatly appreciate a new meat thermometer or an offset spatula for frosting cakes. Others have likely been creating elaborate meals for decades with the same dull paring knife and the thin, nonstick pot they got at Sears when they first moved to this country and do not need your fancy food gadgets when those still work perfectly fine, thank you very much. But you shouldn’t let their potential lack of enthusiasm keep you from buying them gifts from the kitchen department this year, because there is one person that will always be grateful: you, the person who has to cook in their kitchen over the holidays.
If you cooked your Thanksgiving meal in someone else’s kitchen, you may have noticed some things you lacked. In Eater’s Slack, staffers bemoaned not having sharp knives, adequate mixing bowls, a microplane, or more than one cutting board. It causes stress and resentment to have to either lug all the supplies you need from your own kitchen, or to risk cutting off your fingers because they don’t have a peeler. And it honestly makes you question how on earth they managed to keep you fed without a single vessel to boil water. Are you telling me you’ve been making tea in the microwave this whole time??
Giving your family the kitchen basics may never mean they use them — my dad has strained pasta by pouring the water out through an angled pot lid my whole life and isn’t going to stop now — but it means that when you cook there, you get the benefit of pristine utensils purchased to your tastes. You don’t have to pack your suitcase full of knives and pots and spices and appear to TSA like a very specific criminal. You can arrive and cook without worry.
Sure, my mom may have had to make her parents cappuccinos for the rest of their lives. But she also got to make herself one. When you give your parents good kitchen supplies, you’re really buying them for you. So treat yourself.