During the war, women in Britain were routinely called on to salvage as much as possible, including kitchen items like pots and pans. So, if you had to, what would you get rid of in your kitchen? Or rather, what do you absolutely have to have in order to get by?
I ask this only because I have a very specific opinion about kitchen knives. It stems from two things really – a.) I don’t like having clutter on my countertops and b.) I don’t like having things lying about that I don’t use. So how many knives do you really need? Three, it turns out, if you listen to me, or four, if you listen to the professionals.
Really, I only have four kitchen knives, and one of them is Husband’s. We have two different chef’s knives, because Husband prefers something slightly heavier than I do, plus a paring knife and a serrated knife for bread. I’ve heard chefs argue that a truly talented cook should be able to do everything with the tip of a chef’s knife, and thus have no use for a paring knife, but I like the size for smaller things and I’m probably not talented enough to avoid cutting off a finger. I’ve also heard a chef or two argue for the usefulness of a fillet knife, particularly if you cut a lot of fish, but we don’t, so we don’t have one.
One of my kitchen peeves is the compulsion for companies to sell and people to buy large knife sets with a knife block. I have my four knives, which I keep in blade sheathes in a drawer, so no block and more counterspace. I don’t have a large number of knives kicking about never getting used either. You really, simply, don’t need them all. You probably have a favorite anyway, which will tell you something about what you should have.
So, here’s a treat for you… The next time you have to buy a set of kitchen knives, which you will because the ones in block sets need to be replaced every four odd years, take the money and wander down to either a restaurant supply store or a very high-end cooking store. Pay, honestly, for the best knives you can afford and buy only what you need. Take your time, spend a week or two cooking and thinking about what you use, and invest. Enjoy the confidence that comes with using a (near) professional knife and ponder what to do with your newly found counterspace.