No, not Ruben Blades, although I’ve used his recipe for black beans for years now, I’m talking knife blades, specifically, kitchen knives. Walk into most kitchens and you’ll find cheap, flubbery, casper-milk-toast, Betty Crocker cutting utensils. Open a drawer to look for a strop or a water stone to fix the problem and you might as well be looking for Jimmy Hoffa. Even if you find something to hone the blades, chances are the knives are crap anyway.
People don’t care for their knives for the most part because they have bad foundation materials. Occasionally, I’ll go to someone’s kitchen and, way in the back of a drawer, I’ll come across an old, rusty, steel blade with a butter knife edge. I live for these times, sad to say. With just about 15 minutes on a sharpener and then a wet stone, I can make something like that slice a garlic clove into papery thin whisps ready for sizzling olive oil.
Good knives cost more than bad knives but they last longer so why not invest a little now for something that will last you all your life.
I cook with knives I’ve collected over the years. And while I don’t take care of them as I should, if one loses its edge due to misuse (my 7 year old cutting play dough on the sidewalk for example) all I have to do is pay the slightest attention to the edge with a sharpening stone and I’m back in business.
Sharp knives are safer than dull knives. That’s a fact, Jack. A dull, wandering blade, although dull, can still slice your finger open if it slips off your tomato. Sharp knives cut where you point them. They’re also faster.
Here’s what I have in the drawer: (i) a very nasty looking cleaver for god knows what; I’ve honestly never used the thing; (ii) several paring knives that I use any time I step into the kitchen it seems; (iii) two good chef’s knives, 8” and 10”; I tend to favor the 8” because of the weight; (iv) two very elegant Japanese knives – one paring, one boning – that I once used to shave with to win a bet. I keep the Japanese knives in the back, frankly, because I’m possessive and also they cost more than usual.
Don’t buy knives for people you like. It’s bad luck. Should anyone ever buy you a knife, give them a quarter and explain the curse to them. I once knew a man who accepted a pocket knife as a present and his house burned to the ground, his wife left him for another woman, there was a lunar eclipse, his dog bit him and a tree fell on his new Cadillac Escalade. OK, his dog didn’t bite him but some of it could have been true. Bottom line is, pay for your own knives.