Let’s all Take a Deep Breath
Yesterday I wrote an entry about working in the kitchen at my church, and I pointed out that I had to be careful where I left a sharp Chinese cleaver, because the women who worked there were liable to injure themselves with it. I mentioned a lady who cut herself with it because she used it as a spatula. And I noted that women don’t seem to do very well with sharp knives.
People seem to think I was expressing contempt for the people in the kitchen, particularly the lady who cut herself. Sorry if I gave you that impression, but that wasn’t the point. As a matter of fact, the lady who cut herself is an unusually sharp and classy person. Speaks three languages fluently. The fact that she doesn’t know what to do with a Chinese cleaver does not make her stupid.
As for the generalization about women and knives, I’ve found it to be true. Most men are bad about sharpening their kitchen knives, but I’ve only seen women complain about knives being too sharp. Men tend to like sharp tools.
The safety concern is very real. When you work in an institutional kitchen, everybody shares equipment, and if the workers are volunteers, they often don’t know what they’re doing. No one who goes into a church kitchen is going to expect to pick up a knife that will pop the tiniest hairs off an arm and leave nothing behind it. They’ll assume it’s dull like all the other knives. One of the most likely ways to learn differently is to carve up a hand.
I can’t go to church and line everyone up and ask who is going to defy my expectations. I can’t hold a knife safety class. That means I have to make sure that if I have a sharp knife, nobody gets a chance to use it without asking me first. I should never have left my cleaver where other people could see it.
I ordered a cleaver for the church because I’m not willing going to suffer, using the church’s horrible knives to chop pizza toppings. I guess I’ll get a diamond hone, too. And I’m getting a Chinese Chan Chi Kee meat cleaver and a smaller Chinese vegetable cleaver for myself. I’m sold on the cheap Chinese stuff. You can put a fine edge on a Chinese carbon-steel cleaver in ten seconds, and my cleaver outperforms a Shun by a mile.
My Shun cleaver hasn’t been used since maybe a month after I bought it. That was years ago. There is a reason for that. Experience proved it wasn’t a very good cleaver. If it had worked well, I’d still be using it. Sometimes you have to admit the pretty toy you bought was a waste of money.
I guess I could donate the Shun to the church. But I don’t believe in giving God hand-me-downs I wouldn’t want for myself. There’s always the Salvation Army. They could sell it, along with the chipped Shun santoku I never use. And my Tojiro nakiri.
A commenter recommended Old Hickory carbon-steel knives. One of the few things I got from my grandmother’s house was her old rusty butcher knife. I don’t know if it’s an Old Hickory or not. I’m afraid to use it, because it’s kind of a museum piece. Fortunately I have a huge Forschner scimitar knife to fill the need.Stumble it! Save This Page