Sunday, October 10, 2010


A friend gave us this innocent-looking little ceramic paring knife yesterday.  It's already proven perfect for peeling and slicing up last week's delicious CSA apples, and I'm sure will prove perfect for many other kitchen happenings.  The problem is that every time I look at it, just sitting there all innocent-like, I have this strange and irresistible urge to run my fingers down the blade, if only to prove to myself that it's not just a glorified plastic picnic knife.

Resisting this compulsion all day has led to strange rambling thoughts (just ask Evan) about The Subtle Knife. Not the whole book, though I adored the whole book, but rather thoughts of the knife itself.  Its (in my imagination at least) smallness, its discreteness, its ability to cut through the fabric of worlds; the wraiths that are brought into existence with each slice and dice of the subtle knife, each rending of that world-separating fabric, and the souls those wraiths feed on, leaving empty husks in place of men.

It's gotten ridiculous, to the point where I don't even want it out drying in the dish rack but don't quite know what to do with it. It of course won't stick to the magnetic knife rack where I can keep an eye on it, but I don't want it in the cutlery drawer, just begging to be grabbed unawares.  I am hoping that I will wake up in the morning with all thoughts of it magically disappeared in the night, and that I won't have to run my thumb smoothly down its blade to determine once and for all its true or imagined danger.


Deborah said...

I felt the same way about the garbage disposal when I had one in my old apartment. I was so afraid I'd succumb to the temptation to put my hand down the drain while it was running.

cindy said...

I have the same knife. It is a wonderful knife for cutting limes so that the fruit glistens with it's sparkling juice. My husband broke the first knife, but a good friend replaced it for me. I understand your feeling about the knife. When I was a new driver I was tempted to drive the car into a fence or tree because I knew I had a choice at the wheel.I think all this underlines the power we have to choose.

Great to meet you yesterday at Rhinebeck!

Katrin said...

I'm reading this book about cooking "Pot on the Fire" by Jim Thorne and came across this passage last night and thought of you:

"Kinves, on the other hand, are about cutting the Gordian knot. They offer immediate gratification, the opportunity to make decisions first and live with the consequences later. The sharper the knife, the quicker that choice is made - almost quicker than thought itself... Each cook finds the tools that pull their temperament and their kitchen work into some sort of synchrony. I have always been an anxious and impatient person, and this was especially so when I was young. That sharp carbon-steel knife allowed me to grasp anxiety by the handle and point it away from me. I tended to agonize over decisions; here was something that made them for me, lickety-split. To pick up a carrot and cut it into bite-sized chunks was to confront a series of choices, however inconsequential, and resolve them immediately, chop, chop, chop. Of course, being young, I didn't realize that grabbing anxiety by its handle is like getting a tiger by the tail - the sense of relief is only momentary."