Cooks are asking Santa to bring them practical tools for the kitchen.
When Santas go shopping for the cooks on their list, they'll find a wealth of kitchen gadgetry and gourmet ingredients from which to choose.
However, shoppers should be prepared to put some thought into tailoring the gift to the cook. That's because this year's lineup of culinary merchandise is missing that single sizzling-hot piece of kitchen equipment that every cook just has to have.
``There don't seem to be the great trends like we've seen before,'' said Ann Yetman, co-owner of The Bay Leaf, 725 Mass.
``I can't think of a single trendy thing people are asking for,'' said her business partner, Gunda Hiebert.
That even extends to colors and motifs, which drive sales of potholders and dish towels some years. In other words, ``no Scotty dogs and no cows,'' Hiebert said.
While they may not be relics, woks, juicers and bread machines have seen their heyday. If there are themes this year, pasta and coffee may fill the bill.
Hiebert and Yetman said they are selling plenty of gourmet pasta, even in the shape of angels and Jayhawks, and the equipment to cook and make pasta. Coffee by the bean is popular, as are coffee makers and the accouterments of coffee drinking.
What many Santas are doing this year is buying assortments of things for their favorite cook.
``A lot of people put baskets together,'' Yetman said. ``People come in and pick out a lot of different items.''
That's the wavelength Frank and Jayni Carey, authors of ``The Kansas Cookbook'' and ``The Easier You Make It the Better it Tastes,'' are on this holiday season.
``I think people are buying specialty ingredients to make the job of cooking easier,'' Jayni Carey said.
That list includes everything from sauces, spices and pastas to French cheeses and foie gras.
``In fact, I just bought some goose fat for Christmas for a friend of mine,'' she said.
For Frank Carey, the garlic peeler looks like the perfect stocking stuffer for a cook. The tubular gizmo removes the papery skin from a garlic clove in nothing flat.
High interest in wine drinking makes corkscrews and wine glasses a good gift, Jayni Carey said.
``What we think are the coolest thing of all are Laguiole knives,'' she said.
During a trip to France earlier this year, the Careys sought out these upscale culinary pocket knives and found them to be all the rage. The knives are a revival of shepherd's knives from the Auvergne region of southern France.
``They're kind of like a personal steak knife,'' Frank Carey said.
In Lawrence, they're available at Spectator's, 710 Mass., and range upward from about $50.
John Thompson, sous chef of cuisine at Free State Brewery, 636 Mass., said his own list for Santa is pretty straightforward.
``What I tell everybody is just get me cookbooks. You can't ever read enough,'' he said. This year's special request: ``Pretty much any Julia Child will do.''
At The Raven, 8 E. Seventh, co-owner Pat Kehde said she was expecting to sell out of Child's latest release, ``Baking With Julia,'' written by Dorie Greenspan (William Morrow).
Based on what customers are eating at the Brewery, Thompson speculates that ethnic cookbooks also would make popular gifts.
``If we run a Mexican special or Italian, we sell a bunch of it. It's obvious that that's what everybody is into,'' he said.