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One Good Knife

Good kitchen equipment makes cooking fun, and there’s one tool that I value above all others.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a knife snob and a cutting board elitist. It’s not a total surprise, I suppose. I often chide my husband for using a small paring knife to chop vegetables on one of those awful slippery flexible cutting boards, and in my recent travels to the homes of friends and family, I find myself vowing that next time I’ll check a bag just so that I might pack my beloved chef’s knife and sturdy bamboo cutting board.

Being a cooking instructor and cookbook author, the pressure is high to prepare a meal for others in their own kitchens when I travel, but I’m always aghast at how unequipped many are in terms of these two essential items. Style and design often override function and safety, and I’ve struggled to julienne peppers on cute but inappropriately small pig-shaped cutting boards and dice onions on Monet-patterned glass ones, which destroy the already mediocre knife that becomes increasingly dull – and increasingly dangerous – with each chop.

Being vegan has many benefits, not the least of which is the need for just one good knife and one good cutting board. Because there is no need to de-vein a shrimp, disjoint a chicken, filet a fish, carve a turkey, or de-bone, butterfly, or cleave anyone, none of those “specialty” knives are necessary.

Similarly, though some experts recommend plastic cutting boards and keeping those used for raw meats and other animal products separate from those used for vegetables to prevent contamination of foodborne illnesses, these are unnecessary precautions in a vegan kitchen. The worse thing you might find is aphids in your kale and a borer worm in your corn.

When we stock our kitchens with the proper tools, we’re more inclined to cook – and cook healthfully and safely. Once armed, you will relish the joy that comes from mincing garlic, dicing tomatoes, cubing potatoes, shredding cabbage, and slicing mushrooms; and you, too, will find yourself wishing the airlines didn’t restrict us from bringing 8-inch blades in our carry-on luggage. OK – maybe that’s a good rule to have, but if kitchens from coast to coast were properly stocked, this would be a fantasy I could live without.

With a perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

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