Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Your Knife Sucks, But it Doesn’t Have To
Weak. Dull. Uninspiring. Cheap.
If this sounds like a description of your last string of dates, know that you are not alone. (Full disclosure: this article won’t help much on that front.) However, if this sounds like a description of your knife, this is a problem much more in my wheelhouse. You might call me a kitchen appliance relationship guru. I’ve broken up with many that have not served me--or anyone else for that matter. (Cooking with subpar tools makes throwing a dinner party feel like mowing the lawn with nail clippers: not impossible, but a confusing choice given someone already invented the lawn mower.) I can attest to the powers of a good knife.*
Too many of us let our homemade french fry dreams morph into dreams of wedges, then chunks, and finally the reality of garbage and a defeated take out order (they still aren’t cooked and it’s been 55 minutes; we’re not saints) because cutting them “evenly” seemed like more of a suggestion. Wrong.
Like King Arthur might have said, you can’t enter a jousting competition with a pool noodle. (And you can’t cut a potato with one either.)
You should think of your multi-purpose chef’s knife the way you’d think about a romantic relationship: you want stability, reliability, durability. They’ve got to be in it for the long haul; these short-lived flings cost time and money you could be investing in something better, sharper. You want to protect your heart (and your fingers); danger was attractive in your early 20s; now you’re older and wiser, and you know that neither you nor your quiche is invincible. It’s okay if you want them to clean up well too, and while it might not be the most important feature, you’re not going to deduct points for being really, really good looking. Is this allegory wearing thin? Not as thin as the tomato you’re about to slice.
Introducing the stuff of culinary dating dreams--or at least of a better version of Coffee Meets Bagel where actual bagels are involved--the Brigade Santoku Chef’s Knife. This baby is 7” of Damascus steel with a wood grain handle: comfortable and sleek (which is also my new CMB bio). And lest you think you’re getting the flavor of the week, know this: a good knife brings a lifetime of flavor.
Unless you recently bought “The Gourmet Dorm Room,” then you can bet that all recipes are written and shared with the assumption that the chef has a proper toolkit. There’s a reason the recipe calls for you to thinly slice an onion, dice a tomato, or chiffonade basil and it’s not because the author wants to make sure the total prep time is a neat 60 minutes. Don’t wait until your kitchen looks like a crime scene to find out what it is.
Size affects taste, aroma, cook time and visual appeal. Cutting into certain cruciferous vegetables starts a chemical process that can cause a sulfuric taste, but keep chopping, add some olive oil, apply some heat and you can bring out a sweet, nutty flavor in Brussel sprouts. Think about how an apple tastes when sliced vs. whole. The sliced version takes me back to simpler times, after braces but before student loans; it tastes like hope. The latter makes me think of the sad waxy apple in the break room and the mealy taste of “overdue balance.”
If julienned vegetables sound about as likely to happen as Julianne Hough asking you to be her dancing partner, fear not; you can recreate your favorite restaurant flavors at home and you don’t have to date the chef. Just take her knife.
Good knives and good relationships are worth waiting for; uneven potato blobs--never.
*There is a strong correlation between having a better knife and having a better life. Correlation=1.Test population=1. Scientific Rigor=0.