So I'm talking to mumma the other night, and she asks, "What's a microplane?" "It's a grater with small, shallow teeth," I said. Mumma didn't quiet get it, so I said, "You know...like the Ped Egg...but for food, not feet." And with that, she knew exactly what I was talking about. (Funny how that works, huh?)
But then it dawned on me: Maybe there are other readers out there who might need a clarification/explanation. Here goes:
I "borrowed" this pic of a microplane from Williams-Sonoma, but I don't think (I hope!) they'll mind. A microplane is a fine-texture grater. It has a handle and a long surface for grating that has shallow-set teeth all along the plane's surface.
For those of you unfamiliar with workworking, a plane is a tool used to flatten or even-out rough wood. Basically, a plane is a block with a blade in it. When you use a plane, you run it back and forth across a wooden surface, and the blade shaves off the uneven bits that stick up. This, essentially, is how a microplane works: You run food (an orange or a lemon, a piece of chocolate or hard cheese, or a nubbin' of nutmeg) across the surface, and you end up with uniformly shaved-off bits to use in your cooking.
A microplane's teeth take eencey-weencey nibbles at whatever you pass across the grating surface. This makes the microplane the perfect tool for zesting citrus fruit because you can easily avoid the fruit's bitter pith, which you'd likely end up with if you were to use a regular box-type grater. And using a microplane to grate chocolate yields tiny pieces that blend really well into both dry and wet ingredients.