There are plenty of causes that Jamie Oliver has decided to shake up on his own, but arguably there's only one thing he's put on the rest of us. It's his Flavor Shaker, one of the more creative tools included in his new line of kitchen tools (aka the latest extension of the Oliver brand).
A modern-looking twist on the old-fashioned mortar and pestle, the Flavor Shaker ($29.95 at Amazon.com) promises to grind, crush, and blend its contents into a nice, homogeneous marinade. It's a big claim—there's a reason the mortar and pestle has been around for a long time, and I'm not sure it needed to be reinvented. But if Jamie's gadget could do that successfully, he'd have a whole other kind of food(ie) revolution on his hands.
Let me say this: I love Jamie Oliver. He's good looking, he has a really nice accent, his cookbooks are awesome, and he's pioneering a cause that's beyond noble. But his gadget left much to be desired. His accompanying recipes ask me to do things like smash peppercorns or turn garlic to mush by simply shaking them up with the ceramic ball inside the two-domed container. Supposedly, by starting with the narrower side, adding oil or liquid, and moving to the wider one, you should be able to get focused crushing action that really works. In reality, no matter how much I shook—or danced, or pranced, or bashed, or swung—my garlic stayed in chunks and my peppercorns were whole. Jamie, what happened?
With spice grinders lining my shelves, I wondered why I bothered putting in the effort to begin with. While my marinades came out quite good regardless of smash-less-ness, it probably had nothing to do with Jamie's gadget. I'll give him kudos for cleanup control and an undeniable fun factor, but I hate to say, that's where the line is drawn for me. Jamie, you're so welcome in my kitchen, but I'll take a personal appearance next time.