Monday, January 09, 2006

Utensil Fetishism


It is a strange quirk of London estate agents that they append the word "village" onto any area that acquires an upmarket kitchen shop and some sort of fancy deli. I'll admit that a few of these are probably historically accurate. Upon inspection Wimbledon Village and Dulwich Village pass muster though I am a bit dubious of Abbeville Road Village in Clapham since I remember when the road was mostly inhabited by heroin dealers. This village-ification of London's well to do areas seems to go hand in hand with a revival in traditional food shopping. Get yourself a decent butcher, maybe a fishmonger and fancy bakery, hey presto, you can wear plus fours and green Wellington boots, drive a Range Rover and acquire a bizarre braying laugh. Not that I am actually complaining. This is all for the good in terms of laying your hands on the good stuff, food wise, though I may grumble at the prices.

Divertimenti in Marylebone Village is as sexy a shop as you are likely to come across in this town. Sexy if you're a kitchen utensil fetishist, of course, which I'll stand up in group and admit right now; "Hello, my name is Monkey Gland and I get turned on by fancy kitchen equipment". It features two floors of moodily lit kitchen porn, a cookery school and a cafe where we sat out the rain on a grey Sunday afternoon. The perfect environment to revert to type in; I stood staring, drooling over knives and pans. It is in kitchen shops that I get seriously blokey. You see, I don't own a car; not that interested really. I do like my football, but not to the point of obsession. When confronted with cold hard steel in kitchenware form then the testosterone gets pumping. I'll argue like the most rabid Arsenal fan over the comparative merits of Japanese blades vs. the Germans. I'll drool over a copper pan like it is a gleaming Maserati. I'll stare adoringly at a set of steel kitchen scales like they are a Playboy centrefold with a dreamy look on my face. Actually, when I think about it, it has reached the status of voyeurism now. Since the kitchen is too small to fit anymore gear into it I can only feed the habit with token purchases that keep the addiction at bay. Just.

Divertimenti is the place for high end pleasure, for the refined and the rarefied kitchen gear, it's not the place for getting down and dirty. For that, unsurprisingly, you need to head into Soho. Leon Jaeggi has been supplying kitchen equipment to restaurants since 1919 and I really like the staff in here with their encyclopaedic knowledge and friendly down to earth banter. This is the where people involved in the serious business of cooking come and the shop has a great hardware shop feel to it. I love the industrial outsized equipment you can get in here, huge gleaming silver ladles for spooning giant sized portions into bowls. This is the place to come if you want knives and stainless steel pots and at first it may appear slightly daunting. It has that car-part supply grainy feel to it, there is no fancy lighting and they sure as hell won't serve you an espresso but in the end that's probably why I like the place. I get to pretend I'm a mechanic.


Trilo said...

You write very good I like to read your blog!
If you'll have a minute you should look on my blog:

Fahara said...

Damnit, why do none of the guys I meet share this passion for kitchen gadgets?! I'm going to need a seperate drawer just for kitchen tongs soon I have so many!

Ivonne said...

Brilliant photo and great post ... I find that in Toronto, while the upscale kitchen stores in certain neighbourhoods to provide you with much eye candy, it's always the smaller, out-of-the-way stores that keep drawing me back when I'm purchasing kitchen equipment.

There seems to be a sincerity pertaining to the love of food that I just don't feel at the razzle dazzle stores.


keiko said...

Marylebone Village? I think it's called Marylebone High Street :) I had a sneak view of cookery class there last month. If I had to choose crockery 'on that street', I'd go to Skandium as I'm a scandi-fiend.

KathyF said...

I lived right next door to Divertimenti when I first moved to London last year. And we never called it a village, we called it Marylebone High Street.

I did not know you were in London, MG. How did I not glean this from your comments at Cookiecrumb's?