Quack Low, Sweet Chariot
Caroline M. Cooper
Posted on October 14th, 2016
The cooler weather, that search for thick socks, the first tentative roasting of root vegetables before the sun has set—the day still, somewhat, long. This is how I settle in. I laze and lank on the kitchen floor, pausing to stir sauce, pour wine, sneak rosemary into a roasting chicken, wedge chunks of butter beneath its translucent skin.
None of this can happen without some suspension of disbelief, some willful entry into a land where my eight by six foot kitchen expands palatially, where the hot water pipe that runs up the side of the stove converts to a gracious source of sustaining heat and I am cozy, swaddled, and all the tools of winter—crock pot, wooden spoon, herbs—are within easy reach. This is a way of being home.
I don’t have much money. And so, like everyone who doesn’t have “much” money but who has enough, I buy the nice, swaddled, happily-raised chicken but I skimp on the apples. I try a small bottle of a fine olive oil but I leave the shelled walnuts and pistachios alone. There are things that I can afford, and things that I can’t but wish I could, and things that I can’t and don’t mind passing up, and finally things I don’t even know about but would like to own one day if I could. Perhaps that is what Donald Rumsfeld meant by the “unknown unknowns,” which lurk, uneasily, not only in the War Against Terror but also in the Battle to Stock our Pantries and Refrigerators. We would love to have them if only we knew.
Perhaps it was some elemental search for the “unknown unknowns” of the world that landed me squarely on the Amazon pages of the duck press. In 2000, Julia Child was asked to detail her most memorable meal in the pages of Gourmet. Her mind went immediately to Rouen, and a delicious duck she consumed that had been roasted and then passed through la presse a canard.
The duck press. She is 35 pounds, sometimes 40. Gilded, golden. She accommodates a large carcass, and comes fitted with a rotating press. A delicate spigot allows for the flow of juices, indeed, of blood, to pass with each twist. The duck press is polished to a high shine, sturdy yet somehow delicate, with little flourishes of hunting scenes and merry congregations carved into its side. The Paderno World Cuisine Bronze Duck Press is available on Amazon for $3,608.14. There is only one left.
I don’t quite know how I got here. But the duck press is its own rabbit hole and eagerly did I fall down it. Turns out lots of people follow the ins and outs of the duck press world, and readily post their thoughts. A selection, edited for clarity:
“I can’t put it any other way – this has been a life changer. I can now fit nearly 10x as many ducks in my luggage when I vacation. Say goodbye to duck-related clutter forever.”
“Do not use this press for anything other than ducks. Before I got wise, the pressing of chickens, geese, dress shirts, and small children ruined many a duck press in my kitchen.”
“High quality metal finishing, large capacity bowl, and simple operation. Used it for two months before it broke. Now it only runs in reverse. Until this glaring design flaw is resolved, I cannot recommend this product, nor can I use my kitchen because of all the new and unwanted ducks that keep waddling out.”
“You know how it is. You have a fancy dinner party planned, guests are on the way, and here you are stuck with the same old boring wine selection. You need something that makes your party stand out from all the rest, something unique.
That’s where the Duck Carcass Press comes in. Your dinner guests will be raving about the warm cup of compressed duck carcass they enjoyed at your house for years to come. Nothing goes better with a cut of veal or Porterhouse steak than a tall glass of pulverized duck guts. You will be the talk of the town! People will say things like ‘You know who really squishes a mean duck? That Lenny guy over on 4th!’ and ‘I hereby declare this to be the best compressed duck carcass ever!’ Sure, you could just stick a duck in a Ziploc bag and run it over a few times with your car, but this method is, of course, much more civilized.
The secret is in the patented filtration system. The first filter removes the bigger chunks like lungs, feet, feathers and beaks (yes beak… the bill comes after the meal! Ha!) The second filter removes smaller particulates like buttholes, eyeballs and quacks. By the time the carcass passes through the third and final filter, all you’re left with is that sweet, sweet duck juice. I can tell you this, my friends: there’s nothing in this world that compares to the first time that frothy red liquid touches your lips.
I know what you’re saying. You could just buy a baseball bat and a bunch of tiny blindfolds for a lot less than $3,000. But this machine truly represents the future of duck juicing (though the brass finish is a bit impersonal and I wish it made a sultry quacking sound to set the mood.)
I’ve tried all sorts of ways to press a duck. I’ve tried yelling at it, peer pressure, and even waterboarding, but nothing has been as effective as this. Note: Please, only use only dead ducks. This is not for ducks that are still alive.”
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