A Paring Knife

Buy a paring knife. Whatever kind you want, it doesn’t matter. Pare things with it.

Don’t read the above paragraph as dismissive. Seriously: paring knives are amazing. They do lots of great things that a chef’s knife is too large and menacing to do: peel fruit, devein shrimp, carve radishes into roses. (So easy! I learned how to do it when I was 7 and spent an afternoon reading my mom’s childhood copy of The Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook. It involves letting the radishes “bloom” in ice water.) But unlike a chef’s knife, most paring knives are more or less created equal. You probably could find a truly crap one if you tried, with a too-flimsy blade and a handle that snaps off when it encounters a terrifyingly insurmountable foe like orange pith or a tomato. And you could also probably wildly overpay for one, if for example you paid the list price of $67 for a Wusthof 3½-inch when you could get it on Amazon for a nickel under $40. Just stay out of the extremes and you’ll do fine.

My pick: I have three Kuhn Rikon 4-inchers which came as a set, have a perfect shape and balance for my hands, and are brightly colored, which is a surefire way to get me to want to buy something.

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Kitchen Basics

This blog was inspired by a brief moment of frustrated rage I had in December 2011 when I read the fifth (or maybe sixth?) holiday gift guide that recommended a set of Essential Kitchen Tools that were, I am not kidding, about 90 percent overlapping in content.

There’s a reason the Essential Kitchen Tools stories are all so similar to one another: There are certain basic, brilliant tools that decades of trial, error, and pudding-borne proof in the modern kitchen have identified as meaningfully better than the other products in their category. People who have been turned on to these tools become blazingly, evangelically obsessed with their quality, and I am unreservedly one of those people — I can talk at length about the wonders of Le Creuset, I have no idea how I lived before my first Microplane, and I have actually had a full-on fight with my boyfriend caused by him using soap on a cast-iron skillet. (I have since apologized.)

I don’t blame the people writing these stories and recommending these products. I know many of them, and I love and respect many of them. But it’s time to stop. We all agree. It is time to canonize and be done with it. It is my fond hope that this website obviates the need for the Essential Cooking Tools story to ever be written ever again.

(This website is inspired by this post on my personal blog.)

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