Neither the locally-owned supermarket nor the natural foods biostore offer German walnuts. One of the vintners is selling them at the farmers market, €4/kilo, in the shells.
I pour them into a bowl, wondering if my hosts have a nut cracker or I'll have to use adjustable pliers. In the morning an object has been placed next to the bowl. It looks like one of those tubular wine cork extractors, but I presume it's some sort of nut tool.
After lunch, I try the nuts – and the tool.
Cracking walnuts makes me feel close to my grandparents and the rituals of pleasure with which they filled their time. I don't remember my grandfather talking. When I picture him, he has a nutcracker in his hand. (He was also keen to crack crab legs.) The ritual reminds me just how confused we are in equating convenience with happiness. Spoiling yourself isn't about making things easy; it's about taking time to languidly cracking and munch on walnuts.
My reverie and languidity were cracked by excitement; this was the best nut cracker I had ever used! The nut goes inside a cone and is then pressed by the lever. No pinched fingers, no flying escapees, no shrapnel...
I am not an impulse shopper. It has taken me two years to buy new sheets, which I finally did yesterday, after at least a week of doubtful research. I ran to the computer to order this nut cracker. And to find out what kind of company Drosselmeyer is. Well, Swedish, not German. And sleek. And profound.
Erik von Schoultz, Drosselmeyer's founder and Head of Design, has developed his own ingenious design process. It is based on finding a solution that requires the least amount of parts. Crafting objects by hand and exploring the relationship between body and tool are also part of the process.
And they also make a shellfish cracker...