This week I met "Jua." In awe I watched him hack a "coco" swiftly and with elegance as he kneeled in the sand before us on this Puerto Rican beach. We drank its water from a dime sized hole in the center of the coco and then, with the same huge knife, he hacked and chipped releasing chunks of flesh - coconut - for "comida." So delicious. So simple.
For all the fine cookery I've been privileged to be exposed to back home, I've never seen such fine handling of a knife. How many of us can open a "coco" like that? Not I. Compared to Jua, I question how very good my knife skills are. Perhaps it's time to not only sharpen my kitchen knives, but sharpen my skill in using these key tools.
Of late I find the use of knives and other kitchen blades, rather than heat, the defining element of creating fine food for everyday. While some, perhaps many, would hotly debate me, meals with the emphasis on fresh, plant based and gently cooked or raw foods benefit from keen attention to how ingredients are cut; even more so than how they are cooked. Knives and blades - by extension the juicer, Cuisinart, mandoline, julienne peeler, zester, super slicer and immersion blender- are more critical to my cooking than my oven or cooktop.
My knives are constantly used, beginning each morning for thinly sliced apples with lemon juice for my son's lunch bag, followed up with fresh fruits for breakfast and juicing. As the day proceeds, bits of food preparation ensue with cutting, peeling and shredding as the main action.
Once home from my tropical respite, I will examine my knives. They are due to be sharpened. The juicer blade could be replaced and I could use more peelers. Do you have the tools you need to keep your kitchen sharp? A lesson from "Jua': choose your tool, keep it sharp and develop skill in using it exceptionally. One fabulous knife may be all you need to make a remarkable impression and many wonderful foods.