Knives for Christmas

If you’re getting that special someone knives for Christmas, you first need to do some serious soul-searching. Ask yourself: Why would you buy a potentially lethal weapon for someone you love? Would you buy them a gun? Will this person ever have a reason to point a knife at you? If so, make sure you get the kind with the blunt tips.

But seriously. I’ve purchased knives for others more than I care to admit, most often for people whose kitchens I cook in often and whose own knife collections are less than stellar.

This week I’m testing a whole quiver of knives for a company that’s developing some great new blades, and it’s given me new ideas for how people should test knives in the store. If you decide that yes, your loved one deserves a giant scythe-like slab of 18/10 steel, then by all means, buy it. But first:

1. Put the knife on a cutting board, and walk around with the cutting board. If the knife pivots on the cutting board, potentially severing a finger while you whisk the whole mess off to the sink, find another one.
2. Pick up the knife with your eyes closed. If you can’t immediately feel which part of the handle is the top and which is the bottom (and hence where the corresponding dull and sharp edges are), don’t buy it, because chances are that if you do, your beloved will try to slice the better part of their index finger off while cleaning it, which is what I did the other night.
3. Pretend to clean it. I know, playing pretends in Williams-Sonoma in front of the patient salesperson with the knife display keys might not be your gig, but really . . . every time someone uses a knife, it has to get washed (at least, that’s what we tell the health department). If it’s a pain in the butt to clean (think mezzaluna), you’ll probably use it less frequently.

Good luck with all that last-minute holiday shopping . . .

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