Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Perfect Piece: Breadboards

The Perfect Piece: Bread Board

When you picture Julia Child standing over an onion, holding a knife in her hand ready to begin chopping, what do you picture the onion resting on? Do you picture a plastic cutting board, a glass cutting board, or one of those new rubberized cutting boards created by some company that makes you think of hugs and kisses every time you see their logo (think…XOXOXO)? I think not!

Would the woman who slaved over writing “The Art of French Cooking” use something so common and mass-produced as a plastic cutting board with little navy blue rubber edges? No, she would not. She, instead, would use something far more unique and special. She would use something wonderful with character and age; something like an antique breadboard.

A round breadboard is a wonderful cutting board. It does not need rubber edges to keep it in place and it won’t dull your favorite knife as quickly as a glass cutting board. Though wooden cutting boards are quite porous, wood has a natural germ killing substance, making it just as sanitary as one of those boring, strictly utilitarian plastic cutting boards. The breadboard that is used in the kitchen should be washed by hand with dishwashing soap, and occasionally a soap and vinegar solution can be used to make sure it is extra clean.

Antique breadboards are most commonly English or French. They can be round or, in some cases, long and thin, perfect for holding a loaf of French bread. These handcrafted utilitarian items can also be decorative. They look quite handsome when waxed and buffed so that they shine. One may fill a wire basket with a stack of these unique pieces, or simply hang one on the wall of the kitchen. They come in several sizes and shapes and can have words or designs carved into them like the boards pictured. Breadboards are made of different woods, like pine, cherry, and oak and can be made of any hard wood. They can be a rich cherry color or a lighter pine. They can have handles, like the rectangular French breadboard pictured.

Breadboards are simple and rustic or elegant and handsome. They show a history of wear and tear, but with a certain panache. This holiday season, a breadboard would be the perfect piece to give along with a copy of “The Art of French” cooking to the chef in your family, or the perfect piece for serving you blue cheese and Carr’s crackers at your holiday party. You can choose a breadboard that is more formal and decorative to accent that tiny wall space just between the stove and range hood or choose one that is worn to adorn your granite countertop. Breadboards are perfect pieces this season for filling that empty space under the onion that you are just about to chop…