Opinion

EDITOR'S COLUMN: Changing knives is a long process

I’ve got a new favorite kitchen knife, bringing to an end a process that began 10 or more years ago.

I’ve always been a one-knife cook, using the same butcher knife for meat, lettuce or threatening young’uns to stay out of the kitchen when I’m cooking. It’s not safe, due primarily to the knife-wielding man.

For many years I was happy with the butcher knife I liberated from my mother’s knife drawer when I moved out of the house sometime last century. It wasn’t fancy, but it got sharper and more comfortable as the years went by. I never had a desire for a better knife.

Things changed when I received a gift from my sister of another butcher knife, which I had absolutely no interest in. I left it in its original package for about three years, not wanting to open it and make the other knife jealous. Eventually I had to open it, because my sister came over when I was cooking and I didn’t want her to see me hanging around with my old knife.

So I used the new knife one time, then put it back in the drawer where slowly it became handy. Whenever I misplaced my regular butcher knife I’d use the newer one, so it kind of grew on me. It had a thicker wood handle and a nice balance to it. The blade was a bit more curved, making it look like it belonged to a pirate cook.

Still, the new knife was only for emergencies or when my sister came over. But things continued to change. One time I lost my faithful old butcher knife. Turned out one of the kids got the notion to wash the dishes and she put the knife away in the wrong drawer. Never having done the dishes before, she didn’t know where things belong. It took me several weeks to stumble across my old knife in the junk drawer, during which time I was using the newer knife.

During the interval the newer knife became more and more comfortable in my hand. Before long, when I saw the two knives side-by-side in the kitchen drawer I’d sometimes pick up the newer knife, always suffering a slight pang of guilt as the old knife sat there looking hurt.

What made the changeover final was the day I left the newer knife on the stove, turned on the burner and walked away. The smell of burning wood brought me back to see that the newer knife had two deep burn marks on its handle. Suddenly, it had character. This burned-on distinction made it my favorite, only 10 or so years after I first obtained it. The old knife still has sentimental value, and I use it whenever I can’t find the newer knife. But it’s no longer my favorite.

I’ve got other favorite kitchen utensils that maybe should be replaced after all these years, but at 10 years each I don’t think I have time to get the job done. Just bury me with them.

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