Wow, that’s a lot of blood
If you’re into cooking with any kind of zeal, you’ll come across the advice that you should always use the very sharpest knife during any cutting task. “It’s the blunt knife,” you constantly read, “that does the most damage.”
When cooking, I tend to set up my prep area a particular way. Directly in front of me I have my chopping board, the type varying according to what I’m slicing and dicing. To my right, I have a selection of the knives I’ll use during the prep session, all laid out one beside the other — a boning knife for, er, boning, a black ceramic knife for vegetables, a chef’s knife for herb chopping, and so on. The sharpening steel is always the rightmost utensil. Beyond my chopping board is my “refuse dish”, where I deposit all peelings, skins, and ends. I may have two of these if I’m putting aside some peelings, say, for a stock. To my left, I have empty containers ready to receive whatever I’ve prepared.
I’ll be honest and say I like my system. It’s what works for me. And so I chopped, sliced and filleted my way through the Christmas menu, sharpening my knives in between (all except the black ceramic which has to be specially sharpened by some Japanese samurai master in Kyoto during the full moon only when the cranes fly, or something).
That done, I noticed that the cat’s meat also needed cutting. Unfortunately, this only occurred to me after I’d cleaned my prep area. You can guess what’s coming next, can’t you? I grabbed the first clean knife I had (not so sharp, no weight to it). And started laying into the sinewy buffalo forequarter.
It took less than a second. One moment I was realising what a bad idea it was using an unsuitable — and blunt — knife, and the next, the blade slipped and cut my finger through the nail down to the flesh.
As I type this, my left index finger is still throbbing. And it’s difficult to type without that finger in fine fettle — the letters r, t, f, g, v and b depend on it. So take it from me, folks, those righteous cookbooks are right. It really is the blunt knife that does the most damage. And that one’s from personal experience. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake.
In other news, I’ll be touching on the festive season in Johor in my last Novel Spaces post for 2009. Look out for it after 6:00am EST today. Ow!