I love my mortar and pestle. I'm guessing that's not a common opinion-in an age of food processors and spice grinders, this old-fashioned tool seems a bit passé. (Unless, that is, you call it a molcajete and use it only to make guacamole-then, it's a trendy Mexican gadget sold at high-priced kitchen stores.)
But no spice grinder or food processor can do all the things a mortar and pestle can, or do them as well. My favorite use for it is to grind garlic. Just roughly chop a clove or two-the pieces don't even have to be the same size, which is a boon for people like me with little patience and terrible knife skills-and toss it in the mortar with some sea salt. Use a twisting downward motion to crush the mixture, and in literally about 10 seconds you'll have a wet paste that incorporates beautifully into whatever you're making. In salad dressings, it helps distribute the fresh garlic flavor perfectly evenly, and you can whisk up the rest of the dressing right in the mortar.
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