Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Essential for the cook. Sharp knives. I always forget until the frustration with slicing/dicing/cutting rises to the point where I realize all I need to do is get the knife sharpened. And not using one of those home sharpeners that one uses with all hope and hopes are dashed by an imperceptible improvement or none. Knives have a loooong history. Apparently the homininans of the Lower Paleolithic used knives, all of 2.5 million years ago. That would make knife sharpening a pretty old profession.
A number of my knives had gotten to the point of needing a good sharpening, and coincidentally, I happened upon a post at Zoomie's blog about Barbara Giles Knife Sharpening Service, in Novato. An artist who sharpens knives in my own back yard? So after making contact, off I went bearing a few of my motley collection which needed sharpening, including my mother's favorite laminated carving knife which says "US Flint Vanadium" on the blade, probably a relic of the 40s. Lorence of Lorence's Kitchen also likes the Flint line of knives, although the ones pictured in his post look newer than mine and not laminated, and check out that old advertisement!
Barbara welcomed me into her studio where her artwork and jewelry pieces are also displayed, and offered me a lesson on how knives and scissors are sharpened. She's very knowledgeable about knives, and corrected my assumption that one way to tell when a knife needs sharpening is when it won't cut a tomato well. NOT. There is a tomato knife for this purpose, which has a serrated edge! Now I know what my next knife purchase shall be!
There are a series of whirling disks which depending on the condition and need of the blade, she progresses through to put a fine edge on the blades.
It looked like meditative work, and I could appreciate Barbara's craftmanship and care put into each knife.
She also demonstrated how to sharpen scissors. Wow, you have to be coordinated for this! She offered me a loaner set as I had to dash off, that was nice, but I declined since I had yet more knives in a drawer at home. When I picked them up and made my first slice into that lemon, I was reacquainted with the pleasures of precision cutting and sensual feel of the knife gliding through the fruit. I highly recommend sharp knives! And if you are in the neighborhood, Barbara's work is highly recommendable!