I wonder how many people have a Mouli grater tucked away, probably inherited from parents or grandparents? We do! Ours is a little the worse for wear, and it’s red painted wooden handle is mainly just wooden, the red having been worn away over the years, but it still works just as well as it ever did.
It was my mum’s and I don’t remember it not being in the kitchen drawer with all the other utensils, however I do have a feeling that it was probably bought in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s, but now of course there is no way of telling. It might even have been a Christmas gift – if so it was probably from one of her sisters.
The thing which seemed magic to me as a child was that the grated cheese from the mouli was in long, very thin, web like strands, unlike teh conventional grater with a flat back and a curved front which gave you shards of cheese. We didn’t have a box grater – one of those appeared in my life much more recently. My mum did everything quickly and I can remember her making cheese dishes, macaroni cheese, for example and she would whizz the handle round and the cheese threads would shower down onto whatever she was making, Thinking about it now, it was probably a much more economical way of using cheese, so saved money! it somehow made an ordinary thing like cheese salad or cheese on toast seem posh and elegant – to my unsophisticated mind.
Rotating graters for cheese (and other food stuffs) had been around from the 1940’s and was first patented in France, They are mostly associated with Moulinex, and were called the mouli grater by 1957. The firm which became Moulinex derives its name from the food mill, le moulin alimentaire and was founded by a M. Jean Mantelet.
Here’s a really interesting blog all about grating – you might say it’s grate/great!!