Ode to objects

Shallots and knife

I don’t think of myself as a particularly material person. I know money is important to make life easier, and to provide security, but I don’t like possession per se. I find objects burden me: move a couple of times and you’ll understand how literal this phrase is meant to be. I deeply dislike the process of ‘going shopping’. I do, on the other hand, develop an affection to some objects, a bit insane sometimes. (Let us agree that books, and especially cookbooks, don’t count as objects, right?). We have fixed our vacuum cleaner more times than I can remember. It is an old model and it is easy to dismantle, which means there are fewer parts that can break and  we are able to fix it by ourselves. I actually cried when we eventually had to give up our first, beloved car, a trustworthy companion of so many adventures throughout Europe and the first car I ever seriously drove.

Good objects, working objects, can make life so much easier: they can be trusted to be there for you when you need them. And when you think about it, there is such a high degree of intelligence in an object performing the purpose it was built for, and performing it gloriously.

When I moved to Germany I wanted to buy a knife. I was moving close to Solingen, where some of the best knifes in the world are forged.  It took me two years to win my shopping laziness and actually buy one. I regret each and every single day of me not possessing this knife. Before that, I owned a set of small serrated knives that were on my grandfather’s house, used by my parents as a spare set for the summer holidays. An Ikea bread knife, awful. A big white-handled cheap supermarket knife, bought on a hot day together with too big a slice of watermelon, in Trieste; light and unbalanced. A small, decent knife, not very expensive but still bought in a shop selling knives only, that fell and broke its tip after two days of using it. Not bad, but too small and without its most useful part.

Now I have this gorgeous, sharp, perfectly balanced piece of German steel. I have to recognize that Germans can make great products, an ability I find totally fascinating. I have a soft spot for the idea of manufacturing objects, putting research and passion and care in it. It is somehow opposed to the not-so-solid marketing babble we are constantly exposed to, dressing up most of the items we can actually buy. These are products so good, that they’d sell themselves: no need for advertisement.

Anyway, I did spend a relative high amount of money in this knife. Money well spent, every cent of it – and still cheap compared to some of the Japanese knives I’ve seen on sale in Düsseldorf . If I manage not to make it fall, I know this knife will last me a lifetime and then some more. I actually find myself looking forward to the opportunity to go and chop something. The first time I cut a tomato with it, I understood that so far I’ve just been smashing tomatoes, not cutting them.

No recipe today, but please, go and buy a good knife if you don’t have one. I wish I had given myself this piece of advice years ago. By the way, the shallots and mushrooms in the pictures were for a filling of cannelloni, together with some ricotta and spinach. Yummy!

The pictures are in black and white – still a total beginner with it, but Black and White Wednesdays is  tempting me week after week, and some of the work there is just amazing.
New knife, mushrooms

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8 Comments to “Ode to objects”

  1. I totally agree on knives. And I am glad I let yourself be tempted and joined BWW. I like having the weekly appointment: it gets me thinking about the photos I take from a different perspective.

  2. Too true. Really reminds me of when I bought my first decent knife – a Victorinox. The best £30 ever spent and still going strong; and yes, Germans, whatever they may lack (as a race – I generalize) in say – sense of humour, do come up tops in quality and design! I would say though that I always recommend against metal handle knives like Global. Although always the most fashionable and well known, I find holding a metal handle quite uncomfortable, and when I used to work in kitchens for 10-12 hour shifts, they actually gave me blisters!

  3. Oh, knives. I’ve yet to buy a really pricey German or Japanese one, although I do have a pair of Solingen scissors that are nearly as sharp as the day I bought them ten years ago. I get by just fine on my cheap-o blades and a sharpening steel, but I’m very glad you shared your cutting edge shot for BWW, Rosa. Thanks so much.

  4. Knives are so important, and I’ve often dreamt of owning a gorgeous knife like yours, Rosa, but have resisted for some reason. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid I might not sharpen it well enough and will do it damage. Or will not sharpen it often enough and so will never be able to sharpen it properly again. Basically, I have sharpening issues. Not that I don’t sharpen my knives, I do, but I still feel like a novice at it, and my basic Victorinox knives have a very forgiving (soft) edge that sharpen up like I’m a pro!
    By the way, do you know why some cookbook writers bash stainless steel knives? I’ve never been clear on why they are maligned… anyone? And then, I was reading Patience Gray (Honey from a Weed) and she was suggesting cutting some particular ingredient (can’t remember what) WITH a stainless steel knife. I’m a little confounded.

    • Now I am getting nervous at the idea of sharpening it… Luckily for the moment it is still very sharp. I also have to say that sharpening knives is something my partner usually does so I don’t worry too much about it. Anyway more than the sharpness, what won me over is how balanced it feels in my hand. I have used some very sharp knives, but as Adam pointed out, it is the incredibly comfortable handle and the overall balance that makes it stand out. As far as steel or non steel is concerned, I have no clue! I never considered ceramic because the idea of breaking it freaks me out. All I know is that steel may suffer if you leave it in salted water…

  5. Fantastic post…..and something often over looked. I received a ceramic knife for christmas last year and have really loved it….only use it for produce…it is different, but surprisingly sharp!

  6. I am lucky enough to live not to far from a place in Germany with an outlet shop that sells those knives at a good price. A few years ago I bought a set for friends and after having the chance to try them out, I knew I had to buy some for myself. Amazing difference! I enjoy reading your posts.

  7. I love possessing kitchen ustensils, but I’m far from being a materialistic girl. I just like to own objects that will help me cook or bake better. As a matter of fact, knives are so important…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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