One of the perks of work-at-home Wednesday is the leisure to make a good breakfast – one of the simple pleasures that raises one’s quality of life! Last week our supermarket had a sale on miniature yams and sweet potatoes: a three-pound bag for practically nothing. What could be better than a couple of sweet potatoes boiled and sautéed, scrambled with eggs, and topped with grated, sharp cheddar cheese?
Unfortunately while preparing the potatoes I badly sliced my index finger with one of Deb’s nice, new knives. I’ve always been told that sharp knives are safer than dull ones, that you are more likely to be hurt by a dull knife. Yet I have never found this to be true. Maybe I am not enough of a purist, or just not careful enough – and the steel population of my kitchen knows it! Out to get me. The same knife cut me about a week ago.
Here’s what Father Robert Farrar Capon has to say about knives, in his 1967 book on food and philosophy, The Supper of the Lamb:
"At the root of many a woman’s failure to become a great cook lies her failure to develop a workmanlike regard for knives. After all, unless she has the tools and the talent with which to bone, skin, slice, and splice, she must revert to the condition of her ancestors. The progress of the race, of course, enables her to serve prefried fish fillets and diced vegetables in butter sauce, but she herself regresses a million years. Her frozen vegetables are bludgeoned from the freezer with any club that comes to hand (I have seen women use milk bottles, chair legs and even, ironically, the handle of a knife). Once freed from the ice, the package is torn open with bare hands and thrown in the pot. Her results may be satisfyingly modern. But her methods! She is hardly better than her primeval grandmother.
"Accordingly, if she is to mend her ways – if Fanny Farmer is not to have died in vain – she will have to acquire enough knives to liberate her from slavery to prepared foods, and enough skill to be able to cut what she wants the way she wants it."
- The Supper of the Lamb, pp. 56-67