Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cooking is all about sharp things and fire

I saw a quote somewhere about how great it is to cook, because you get to play with sharp things and fire. I have to agree.

When I got a chance to review the new vegetable knife by Wusthof, I was pretty darned excited. I like quality knives and I've been slowly building my collection of good ones while getting rid of the bad and the ugly.

Okay, I've got one big, bad ugly knife that I'm kind of fond of. Rumor has it that my grandfather made the knife. I have no idea if that's true or not, but I won't be getting rid of that one. Others, though, have slowly been disappearing from my knife block.

The Wusthof knife isn't just a blade and a handle - it's got some unique design features. When I posted a photo of the new knife, one of the comments was that it looks a bit like a Klingon weapon. I have to say I agree.

While knives with Granton edges have become common, this design caught my eye. This is from the description over at Williams Sonoma:

"Designed for slicing, chopping and trimming fresh produce, this German knife features holes along the cutting edge that reduce friction - ideal when you’re cutting potatoes and other firm vegetables - and a ridge that helps push food off the blade. The full-tang blade is forged from stain-resistant high-carbon steel and riveted to the nonslip polypropylene handle for peerless balance and control."

I've been using the knife for a while now, and I have to say it's been a pleasure to use. It slices through vegetables like a hot knife through butter. It's a nice size, with an 8-inch blade and the weight and balance felt good in my hand. That, of course, is personal preference.

When my mother-in-law asked me to bring an onion along to her backyard barbecue, I decided to bring this knife along, as well. Mom doesn't have any sharp knives, and the last time I saw her hacking at an onion with a dull knife, I was cringing. So I brought my shiny new knife over, demonstrated how easily it sliced through an onion, and then asked her if she wanted to try it.

And to my great surprise, she struggled to do the slicing. I think part of it was that she was afraid of the knife since she knew it was sharp. Part, I'm sure, was technique. For the life of me, I'm not sure exactly what she was doing wrong - maybe trying to push the knife through rather than slicing. But I guess the truth is that even with a sharp knife, you still might need a little bit of technique to get the job done.

I'm pretty sure my mother-in-law would have trouble with any of my sharp knives - it's just not something she'd ever be comfortable with. But it was interesting to see how she handled the knife - and the onion.

On the other hand, anyone who wants a good knife isn't going to have the same qualms. The only question, then, is whether this is the right knife.

Do I love thins knife? Yes. I'm still not sure if the ridge is a magical addition to the knife that would make anyone throw out a similar knife to buy this one. But if you're choosing between two similar knives, it might be enough to tip the balance.

I always tell people that before they buy a knife, they should handle it a bit, and better yet, use it for at least a test drive. Now that I've used this one, I've got to say that it would definitely be on my "to buy" list.

Disclaimer: I received this knife for review at no cost to me.