Unlike so many foodies, I didn't grow up surrounded by a culture of food or food lovers. My small, nuclear family, like so many others in the 60's and 70's, enthusiastically partook of the wondrous, newfangled time-savers like minute rice, hamburger helper, and canned vegetables. Frozen TV dinners were a treat and canned pasta was de rigueur for a warm winter lunch on a school day. Food back in the day was a necessary annoyance to be gotten out of the way as quickly and conveniently as possible.
Today, I love food and cooking, and I prefer my food to be FRESH...but I like it fast. The need to make quick meals is the one thing that must have stayed with me from my food experiences growing up. Back then, as with today, vegetarian cuisine had a reputation for being time consuming because of all the chopping. I don't necessarily agree, but when there is chopping to do, the right knife can make all the difference.
Way back, I'd invite friends over for dinners when I was in university and just discovering my love of cooking. One of my good friends, who worked in the food biz at the time, used to look on with horror while I chopped all the veggies for our meals with a dull paring knife. She'd warn me that I'd be more likely to cut myself with such a dull knife and that it would be alot faster and easier to chop with a sharp knife and that my hand wouldn't ache with a proper knife. It wasn't until years later that I finally discovered she was right! My husband had just splurged and bought himself a brand new 8" Wusthof chef knife.
He already had some great knives but despite his urging I refused to use them, preferring instead to use my dull bread knife because I was used to it. One day I decided to try the chef knife to cut some curly-leaf kale leaves from the thick woody stems and, WOW, it was like slicing through warm butter! It was so easy and fast! I was hooked forever. I became a chopping fanatic. Using a good knife was like the difference between riding a bicycle and driving a car. So, my husband bought me my own Wusthof and many speedy, vegetarian meals ensued.
Until, sadly, we sent the knives out to be sharpened. The sharpener shaved off a big curve from the heel to the middle of my knife and I lost contact of half the blade with the cutting board. Never again will the sharpening be done by anyone but me. I'm buying a stone and will learn how to sharpen it myself. I'm using a steel to keep the blade in good condition between sharpenings. My new knife is a lovely 7 " santoku that makes what many see as a chore into a relaxing and fun experience.
My old foodie friend is thrilled that I've finally discovered what she'd been trying to tell me for so many years and she has reaped the benefits of many a fast and fun vegetarian meal created with my good chef knife.