Recent events—RIP James Gandolfini—have prompted me to revisit The Sopranos. Thanks to access to HBO Go through a rather convoluted connection (a friend’s girlfriend’s cousin), I’ve been binge-watching the weekly chronicles of the Soprano family. And, I should add, binge-eating as much pasta, sweet sausages, and "gravy" as my palate and digestive system can tolerate. Like the mob cinema that gave birth to it, The Sopranos treats food in a reverential way, as a prized cultural artifact that ties communities and, more important, families together. In any case, it just makes me hungry.
But every time I went to grate the parmesan or reggiano (see more cheeses, hard or soft, here) on my carbonara, penne, or spaghetti, I had the same problem. The cheese would invariably become stuck in the tiny crevices of the grater, and it would take a small miracle to dislodge the pecorino particles from them. That’s exactly the type of scenario the Flexita Grater was designed to address.
Conceived by Italian designer Ely Rozenberg, the Flexita isn’t your nonna’s grater. For one thing, it’s flat—the exact opposite of every grater made since 1540s, the year the device was invented. Made from bendable steel, the grater is equipped with plastic handles that are meant to be gripped by one hand. (The handles double as loops for hooks, meaning the grater can be hung or laid flat in a drawer, making for easy storage.) When squeezed, the unit assumes a conical shape, with the blades protruding outwards. Grab a block of hard cheese with your free hand and scrape it along the curving face of the grater. When you’re done, release the handles and Flexita returns to its flat state, releasing all (or almost all) of the precious cheese shreds.
According to Rozenberg’s project brief, the Flexita has a material "memory" that allows it to morph from one form to another. It’s a poetic way to describe how flexible the steel is, thanks to its incredible thinness—just 0.2 millimeters "thick." The steel’s leanness reduces the amount of material typically needed to make an average grater by about 50%. Moreover, the polyethylene handles and trim edges are recyclable, upping the Flexita’s green quotient.
As of now, the Flexita is still a prototype, though Rozenberg was awarded a Red Dot Design Award last fall for his concept. Producers out there, help make pasta dinners that much better.