Until recently, preparing fresh garlic was an exercise in frustration, misery, and despair. First we had to separate the cloves from the bulb—an arduous process which, if the garlic was fresh, involved prying, stabbing, gouging, and courting slashed fingers when using a sharp knife to lever out the tenacious little bastards, which then of course rolled off the cutting board and onto the floor onto the dirtiest part under the sink where it’s hard to bend down and get them.
Then we had to snip off the little woody end, which is fussy and small and a pain. And then, as though we weren’t already exhausted, we were faced with the task of removing the papery skin. Garlic presses half the time caused the clove to explode in our face and all over our clothes, plus then you had to clean all those horrible little holes. Sometimes smashing the clove with the flat of a chef’s knife worked, but sometimes it didn’t and we had to do it again. And that pressed the unwanted skin slivers further into the pulp, which meant that chopping—forget mincing—was a proce
You know what? We can’t even go on. Just take our word for it, that when, on a recent visit to the eastern European country of Bela-Abzug, we met Gene and Susan Ballantine, we knew our days of garlic-prep misery were over.
The Ballantines arrived in Wattsituya, the capital city of Bela-Abzug, in 2004, and immediately fell in love with the city, the people, the food, the postage stamps—just the whole fucking country. We mean they fell totally in love with everything. They were crazy about Bela-Abzug and had a love affair with it because of loving it so much—especially the cuisine, and especially the kitchen equipment found in every Belagian home.
And so they did what Americans always do: They started their own business, to make Belagian kitchen equipment available to home cooks the world over. They called the company Belagian Kitchen Equipment Concepts, and launched as their debut product the Gzterkk, which is native slang for “garlic pulverizer.”
The design combines traditional simplicity with ergonomic efficiency. Like a mortar and pestle, the Gzterkk consists of two separate pieces: the gzt, which is a sort of cast iron hammer with a wooden handle, and the terkk, which is a striking plate (also cast iron) resembling an old-fashioned clothes iron mounted on a pedestal.
The operation of the Gzterkk is simplicity itself: Simply place the garlic cloves, or the entire head, upon the terkk, and hit them with the gzt. Believe us, the son of a bitches don’t stand a chance.
And cleanup is a snap. Just hose each one down out back, on your balcony, or in the bath tub, and dry. (As with all cast iron, it is not advised to air-dry the Gzterkk, which courts rust.)
Our supply of this new essential is limited, so it’s wise to act quickly. Meanwhile, we eagerly await the Ballantines’ next offering, which we’re told has something to do either with opening wooden beer kegs or juicing figs.