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FEBRUARY 11, 2008    More below: LATTE ART

Garlic Card

Close-up of Garlic CardThis is the kind of product that gives Design a bad name. Joanne paid $6 for it at the MoMA store in New York, and after trying it once I can tell you it's not just overpriced, it's worthless. To MoMA's credit they no longer list it for sale on their website.

Think about the Garlic Card like this: take an ordinary grater like you might use to grate vegetables. Replace the sharp-edged metal "teeth" with dull plastic ones. Instead of holes for the grated shreds to fall through, make it solid plastic. Now, make it really small, like a credit card, so about 1/3 of the space is needed so you can hold it, leaving only about 2 inches of grating surface. Oh, and make it in many bright colors so it looks really cool.

The result: an awkward, tiny, flimsy sort-of grater that makes a small amount of garlic mush (they call it "puree") if you have the patience to keep scrubbing a clove of garlic back and forth on it. Oh, and it looks cool and you can put in your wallet.

Learn more about it on their website. Why there's even an instructional video! Think about that...how many kitchen utensils need a video to explain how to use them?

I have a hard time believing that the Garlic Card's inventor was a cook or that he would prefer this method of preparing garlic to using a garlic press (too hard to clean, he says) or simply smashing the clove with the side of a chef's knife blade and doing a quick mincing of the what's left.

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And you thought it was just coffee

One of my Web Publishing I students found this video on YouTube showing some pretty fancy cups of latte. Click the thumbnail image to watch it here:

My immediate reaction—and that of other students—was that someone has way too much time on his hands. But as I thought about it I realized that one person's frivolity is another's art. Latte art, in this case.

Cup of latte with bunny-type creature in the foamToday I walked into Gypsy Beans, my favorite local coffee shop, and instead of ordering a cappuccino I asked if they made fancy patterns with their lattes.

The guy looked at me for a second, then said, "You mean latte art?" "Sure," I replied.

A few minutes later I was staring at an oddly appealing critter with big ears in my coffee cup.

You never know what you'll get until you ask.

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