Why didn’t we think of this sooner?

Adam Gault/Getty Images

When you’ve been doing something one way for your entire life, it’s disorienting to learn a more efficient way years later. I remember learning how to properly hold and use a chef’s knife when I was 23 years old, and once I saw how it was done, I felt like a fool for doing it any other way for two decades. Often these kitchen tricks make an easier and safer job of your work, but they are not intuitive—they have to be learned. And if you’re like me, you learned how to do most things in the kitchen at the side of your mother and grandmother. Because of this, I assumed my relationship with a cheese grater would always be a messy one, ending with me scraping off bits of cheese smeared onto the counter. Grandma would grate cheese directly into a bowl, and mom would lay down paper towels to make clean up easier, but despite their efforts, cheese always made its way to the corners where it didn’t belong—and there was also the inevitable moment when the cheese grater would slip mid-stroke.

Thanks to a food video that went viral and got our attention, I found myself with my palm on my forehead wondering how I’d never thought of using a cheese grater on its side. By grating the cheese horizontally rather than vertically, the shredded flecks fall into the body of the grater and are contained so that they can easily be dumped and measured into a bowl. Also, since the long side of the grater is on the work surface, the box is more stable and won’t fall from the force of moving the block of cheese up and down. So the next time you decide to make something that requires some quality-time with your cheese grater (like pimiento cheese), place it on its side and enjoy the reward of working smarter and not harder.