The following is told from the perspective of my Santoku knife, perhaps my favorite utensil and my best friend in the kitchen. I’d like to dedicate it to the memory of our Microwave. [moment of silence] Take nothing for granted. Not your spouse, nor your dog, nor your kids, nor toilet paper, nor kitchen utensils and appliances. You never know when you’re going to slam the microwave door just a wee bit too hard in frustration while trying to make dinner with a crying baby hanging on your leg and a hungry two year-old angrily and systematically taking all the pillows and cushions off of the couch yet again — and suddenly (!) that microwave is no more. Life is short. Show some appreciation for your loved ones. And especially for your kitchen appliances. Make them feel loved this Valentine’s Day. But maybe don’t hug your knife — or anything sharp.
The Mental Agony of a Santoku Knife
Ah, here she goes again. I can smell something. Beef? No, spicier. Sausage. Pork, I think. She’ll need me soon. I wonder what my assignment will be. Let’s see…it’s Tuesday. What did she have planned for Tuesday? I thought it was salmon. She shouldn’t need me for salmon. Maybe I can get a break tonight, then. But why the pork smell?
It’s so dark in here. I wish I could see better. What IS she making?
“Hey, Serrated Bread Knife, can you see from up there? What’s she making? Is she at the stove?”
“Man, I can’t see shit. Smells good, though.”
“Ugh, I just need a break!” I sigh to no one in particular. My blades are dull, getting sore.
“Fuck up, then.” Kitchen Shears, always full of advice. He’s our problem solver. So much experience and advice. He’s so wise. And knowledgeable. He’s really seen it all: chicken bones — he’s done it! Clipping coupons — no big deal. Snipping scratchy tags from kids’ clothing — handles it like a pro. He’s even done frozen pizza!
“What?” I ask.
“I said, FUCK. UP. You’re the best there is, kid. You have to know that. If you want to stop being sent on assignments, you need to mess up. Throw it. I’m telling you, you screw up once, maybe twice, and she’ll leave you in here with the rest of us next time. You don’t think Paring Knife can’t handle a few measly onions? Because believe me, she can.”
“I can! I can! Is it my turn? Am I up? I’m sharp, I’m ready!”
I ignore her. Out loud: “That’s a great idea. Maybe I’ll nick her finger or something…Or squash the avocado,” I start to ponder this. Hmm, should I really be vengeful? Or just clumsy and careless? I could make sure the cheese slices are uneven. That would really bother the Missus. Of course, then she might take it out on those poor little boys. They’re both so cute, especially the little one with those big blue eyes. Sam. Good guy. The older one’s not bad either — when he’s asleep.
“But you’ll be throwing away talent. You’ll be wasting your commission.” Kitchen Shears interrupts my brainstorm.
“What do you mean?” I groan. I’m too tired for this! The idea of a night off excites me.
“Christ, in all my years, I’ve never seen such stupidity. Such ignorance. Why the hell do you think she uses you all the time? Huh — why? Because you’re the best! You’re the best there is, kid. You have to know that.”
“Kitchen Shears, please. I’m exhausted. I just want to sleep. It’s so dark and warm in here.”
“Kid, you’re too damn good to rest. Any one of these losers would fight to be in your shoes. Fight, I tell you! Have some pride! You’re the sharpest! The most versatile! The strongest! You were made for this!”
I know he’s right. Crap, he’s right. Maybe Paring Knife could handle a few onions. But can she do potatoes? She’s too small for that. She couldn’t even make that first horizontal slice. I don’t think she’s ever even tried something that large. And Nate and Sam need to eat! Those little guys are the reason I get out of that storage block in the morning.
He goes on, “Not only that, but you swore an oath, kid. An oath! Do you understand me?”
I did swear an oath. Back when I was cast and welded. God, it seems so long ago. I was so young. So naive. So eager. I thought I was ready, I really did. Am I really so jaded now? Am I?
Kitchen Shears is still talking. “…dammit, you were forged from the strongest, finest stainless steel Japan has to offer! You better start thinkin' like the knife you were designed to be!”
Hmph. That’s true, I am higher quality than the rest of them.
“…you slice, you dice, you mince better than anyone in here! Better than anyone out there, too! Are you hearing me, boy?! Get it together!”
He’s right, I am the best mincer. Serrated misses too much, he can’t handle those finer chops.. He should really just stick to bread. Kitchen Shears sounds angry now.
“…think of those kids! They need to eat! They’re relying on you! What if it’s a roast? You really think Butcher Knife can slice that without shredding the fibers??! He hasn’t been sharpened in years!”
“Hey now, wait just a minute!” Butcher Knife must have woken up from his haughty dormancy. He does not handle criticism well.
I do like those kids. A lot. It’s not easy to cut that grilled cheese into triangles. Well, triangles for the older one. Little bite-sized squares for Sam. And Nate likes it with just enough cheese oozing out of the middle — but not so much that it all runs out. Then it’s just toast. Literally.
“Those kids will starve! Their little teeth can’t handle that tough meat. None of us has scallops! None of us is rust-proof! This is your realm!”
Paring Knife chimes in: “He’s right. This is you, Santoku! We can’t do what you can.”
It IS my realm. I can handle anything. I’ve never had any problems before. I was made for this.
I think back to my oath: I have a duty to serve and perform. I provide sustenance to the masses, nourishment for those babies! They need me. I’m strong. Strong enough to handle the firmest sweet potato. I’m sharp. Sharp enough for the softest tomato. I’m precise. Precise enough for the feistiest of apples.
Man, I hope Cutting Board is ready. We’re going in!