Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ginsu Pride

Recently a friend of ours was surprised to learn that, not only did I know what a ginsu knife was (he thought I was much younger than I actually am--thanks, Jeff!), but that I actually owned one.

While I possess several hundred dollars worth of professional-quality knives, that gnarly little ginsu still holds a place of honor in my knife block and in my heart (figuratively speaking, of course). It was the first knife I ever owned that I had respect for because, well, it could hurt me really badly if I wasn't careful. Most every other blade I had was by comparison in the "won't cut melted butter" category.

Everyone has their own story of a ginsu used for non-food-cutting-up purposes. Mine involves my mom killing two birds with one, er, knife. One December day she decided that rather than hire someone to get rid of the juniper tree that was growing out from under the edge of her house, she'd just take care of it herself. So she grabbed her trusty ginsu knife and sawed it down. When she realized that it was about six feet tall, she knew it would serve quite nicely as a Christmas tree. So she brought it into the house, put a tree stand on it and decorated it.

Perhaps for a food professional to own a ginsu is akin to a horticulturist owning a chia pet or a manicurist having a set of Lee press-on nails. But there are tasks I tear into gustily with that knife that I'd not want to chance damaging a W├╝sthof or a Messermeister on. For example, it's great for opening things the scissors can't cut--like the packaging of computer cables, cell phone accessories and the like. (Perhaps they should contain nuclear waste in that kind of packaging. It's darned near impossible to get into unless you have a ginsu.)

Since my culinary training, I've replaced most of those old happy homemaker kitchen utensils and pieces of equipment with much more efficient and professional-quality items. But in spite of its somewhat low-rent status in the rest of the world, the ginsu stays. Call it my own personal Kitchen Thug.

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