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"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

May 19, 2008


Tonight I fixed dinner using a Forschner/Victorinox knife that Kay and Gary gave me for Christmas. Victorinox is the company that makes Swiss Army knives. They also gave me a magnetic knife holder that hasn’t been put up yet. It is awaiting my kitchen remodel that I am hoping to do. Ignore the fact that I have been whining and carrying on about my inadequate kitchen for about 40 years, I am still hoping.

I am fussy about knives and like having just the right knife for the right job, all sharpened and ready to go. I have four Japanese knives – no, not the really expensive kind, but very nice. One year our youngest sister, who lived in Japan, sent each of her sisters and her mother a wonderful knife. The telephone lines hummed that Christmas morning as we talked to each other about the cutting magic in that knife. “Have you cut a vegetable?” we would ask and we would then cut a carrot or a potato or something and exclaim to our sisters about it. It is still a great knife. When the grandchildren were asked if they wanted something of Gram’s, after her death, my daughter asked for her Japanese knife.

Brother-in-law Bob makes knives! Who knew? Somehow I never thought about ordinary people making knives – not that Bob is ordinary. When they were in Japan they were able to go and see a knife Museum/knife maker place. Bob’s knives are hunting knives and real works of art.

Brother-in-law David was fussy about knives too and I was honored to be allowed to handle his knives. Of course, knives are never put in the dishwasher and are kept clean and handled carefully. I keep a steel close by and keep them sharp. The saying about dull knives being more dangerous than sharp knives is true.

Kay gave me the most wonderful little knife that is perfect for picnics and cutting cheese, bread, and fruit. I would love to be able to take it overseas and use it when we picnic in a little park or on a train or in our room but I am afraid that I will lose it. It is a Messermeister (made in Japan, of course). It is called a “Traveller’s Knife With Sheath”. There are holes in the hard plastic sheath so that the sheath can be rinsed out and kept clean. She discovered it in Napa Valley somewhere and gave it to me. I love it. I actually used it a lot when I was living in Hawaii for a year. The place I was staying didn’t really have any good knives.

I think that Gary’s favorite tool in the kitchen is his Chinese Cleaver People have said that you only need one or two knives. I, however, have a knife that I use to segment grapefruit, one that I use for peeling potatoes, one that I use for slicing vegetable (yes, that one), and one that I use for cutting cheese – a santoku. My Chinese friend in Hawaii introduced me to this Japanese knife. I have a serrated bread knife and a few others. Some I have had for over 50 years.

Do you suppose this fascination with knives indicates some hidden aggressive tendency in me?

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