11.14.13

101 in 1001 {III}: 008 take a knife-skills class [completed 11.03.13]

i thought i wanted to learn to cut things efficiently and safely because joe (foe of onions) always complains that i don't dice things finely enough and because i seem to lose the tip of a finger to a laughably-uncomplicated prep job (this year it was chopping parsley; sorry about that, right index) once a year or so. those are solid reasons to learn to cut things efficiently and safely, and brooklyn kitchen's celebrated class addressed them; i've now spent substantial time practicing the previously-scorned not-removing-the-stem-of-the-onion method, and i now know to make a tiger claw with my non-cutting hand before i get to work on, say, a carrot, and that i should be honing my knife before and after every big job (if you look at the blade of your knife straight on and can see reflected light, it needs to be honed). i also know, thanks to the preview of the advanced knife skills class to which we were treated at the end of our class, that i'm unlikely to become one of those rare and mysterious vegetarians who can prepare meat for others, as the spectacle of our teacher taking a chicken apart on a cutting board directly and graphically in front of me was at least sixteen times more disturbing than the small-stage production of titus andronicus i saw at the public two winters ago (in which a small child wandered around puncturing a lumpy plastic bag full of blood each time a character was dispatched); you omnivores terrify me.

what i now realize i actually wanted was to see someone chop an onion really, really fast, as they do on foodie-reality-tv shows like top chef. i am not a very good pupil as a general proposition, and i am especially lousy at following right-handed people in demonstrations: i have the visual-spatial intelligence of a baby carrot and a short attention span, so i get confused and promptly move on to thoughts of, say, how i might make myself octopus smoking slippers* or teach steve to jump through a hoop instead of digging in and figuring out how to make my clumsy old left hand do the thing i'm expected to learn to do. (i'm a bad teacher for similar reasons, and wonder every now and again if all those archery "lessons" i gave as a girl scout camp counselor ever led to fatalities.) i did not see anyone chop an onion really, really fast (our teacher was far too responsible to encourage us to go benihana on our vegetables), and it's unlikely i myself will be chopping an onion really, really fast at any point in the near future, but i'm not sorry i froggered out to north williamsburg in the middle of the new york marathon to learn knife skills: i'll remember the tiger claw, i now have a freezer full of wonkily-cubed stock ingredients, and i also have a class handout i can consult if i ever develop the self-discipline to sit down and puzzle out diagrams for more than a few minutes at a time. sometimes that's enough.


imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 did i make it sound like i do all the cooking when i mentioned joe's prissy onion thing?
02 do you know how to take a chicken apart?
03 were/are you a good pupil?
04 were/are you a good archer?
05 when did you last take a class?
06 if you were to customize a pair of smoking slippers, how would you do it?


*they are in the works and will be boss.

24 comments:

east side bride said...

01 actually, you make it sound like you're the sou chef

02 nope

03 that's a very complicated question

04 may

06 i can't see me in smoking slippers

east side bride said...

whoops, ha, skipped right over that archer question. i guess you can glean the answer

east side bride said...

SOUS CHEF. fuckme. should i just delete all these and start over?

lauren said...

07 do you think we'd be good partners in a hunger-games-type situation?

lauren said...

i feel like his sous chef, yo. i'll do all the leg work on something and he'll wander in at the end and adjust all of my spices and complain about the dice. he's usually right, but that's not the point.

Celia said...

01. No.

02. Yes. On that note, being freaked out by the handling of raw meat is not just a non-omnivore issue. I've been meaning to write a blog post about it, actually. Meat-eaters who can't deal with raw meat freak *me* out.

03. I could/can be.

04. Does my birthing class count?

05. No. I can't even efficiently throw or catch a ball. Flinging arrows into the air is something I should probably stay away from.

06. I'm with ESB on this one.

Celia said...

Shit. I mixed up 4 and 5. You get the picture.

lauren said...

@celia i'm telling you, these octopus shoes are going to be game-changers. and i like your order as is - cheech is totally a projectile.

Celia said...

ha, yes! i considered not even admitting to my mistake. it does manage to work as is.

babyjo said...

01 no, but that same bullshit goes down in my household.
02 uh, no.
03 i really don't think so
04 well the last time i did any archery was at the cabin, and i'm pretty sure i was not only still in single digits but also not really in possession of the arm length necessary for such things, so let's say...no.
05 2008? december?
06 line drawings of ruby. as in goo. ruby slippers. i am lame.

lauren said...

(internet, note that ruby is babyjo's cat)
(and that mansplaining onion-dicing seems to be a thing)

Anonymous said...

01 nope.
02 yup, two ways.
03 yup.
04 nope.
05 last month at John Broida's knife shop in Venice, CA while trying to learn to sharpen one 8" chef's knife in less than 4 hours - see his youtubes.
06 i weren't.

Anonymous said...

MDF bespoke...
01 “Foe of Onions” in the running for gravestone?
02 Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.
04 After reviewing Wiki’s page for Summer Olympic Games, I’ll instead rep the haunting Basque Pelota: “…1900… …a Basque pelota tournament was contested. Only two teams competed, so only one match was played. The score is unknown.”
05 Does reading books by Albert Ellis count? It would be bad if it didn’t, but not terrible.
06 Those lights that blink when you take a step.
0? hansom 2. any similar horse-drawn vehicle.

Ma said...

01 no, but then I think anyone who is willing to ask someone else to dice/slice on more than one occasion should just say 'thank you' (and then dice their own next time)
02 in theory
03 yes?
04 surprisingly so (thanks to random SSC counselors)...no witnesses among you, however.
05 a knife class, in Berkeley, c.8 years ago. To save the fingertips of my left hand from further mayhem
06 embroidered silk embers

Rob said...

At first I thought this was a knife fighting class and I was really excited.

01 Not really.
02 I could figure it out, I can take a deer apart.
03 Yes, so long as things were complicated enough or I could teach myself.
04 fair
05 Last year I took a CPR class.
06 What are smoking slippers?
07 If you know your wild edible plants, we'd be a force.

theRachel said...


01 No.
02 No, but I make a mean whole roasted chicken.
03 Depends on the subject matter.
04 It's been years since summer camp, I'm not sure I was excellent, but recall having fun at it.
05 Currently in the midst of prenatal classes (thanks for the reminder, Celia)...but have been dying to take a knife skills class, oddly enough.
06 I'm at a loss. Probably tigers.

(this is the first time I've answered one of your questionnaires! wheee!)

LPC said...

01 No, onions are always done by the low man on the totem pole.
02 Yeah.
03 Depends on what you mean by good. Learned fast, argued a lot.
04 No. My brain gets any excess verbal capability by taking it out of my hand-eye pool.
05 Um, where I have to sit with other people? Or online? Online I learned how not to sexually harass anyone.
06 Funny you should ask. I want some for this holiday season. I think I'd have to do Chinese characters. Or a dragon on one shoe and a pearl on the other.

lauren said...

@ MDF re: 05 i mean, if it makes you feel better.

@ Ma re: 03, i recall a tale of you getting punished for giving a nun bunny ears. perhaps this is where i get the surliness mr. gunderson pointed out.

@ Rob i would take a knife-fighting class. i took a foraging class with amanda in central park a few years ago; as long as we stay away from mushrooms, i think we've got a shot at this.

@ theRachel i very nearly went with tigers. welcome to imaginary reading group!

@ LPC i knew i could count on you for smoking slippers. i've had to take that harassment course like four times now, and i don't have any full-time subordinates; what is The Man trying to tell me?

Amanda said...

01 No
02 I'm afraid so
03 Does Lisa Simpson play the sax?
04 Obviously
05 On Friday
06 I'd tap clove cigarette ash onto them, probably
07 I do not

Rachel said...

01. Nope, but it does kind of make it sound like all you get to do is dice onions.
02. Not well, and I'm embarrassed about it. Luckily it doesn't come up often.
03. Yes, although I learn by doing and watching someone do something is only minimally useful to me.
04. No, although I longed to be. Ye old Camp Sherman was my only experience in that realm.
05. Um, two months ago, I think? I learned to wire a lamp. And didn't electrocute myself.
06. I avoid smoking slippers. They aren't flattering on non-dainty feet, I think.

Aside - sometimes I think the capchas are trying to kill me.

Abby said...

Yes! I was excited for you to get to this item on your list.

My husband and I moved abroad a few years ago in the middle of a foggy winter. Having no friends, we spent most of our time inside reading Bittman and watching knife skills videos on youtube. I bet you there are some left-handed videos out there. We don't hone our knives ourselves, though we tried for a while - it's easy to mess them up.

Okay, my first time answering one of your surveys!
01 No
02 No. I've read about it but can't bring myself to do it. I'm one of those meat eaters that Celia referred to above. I'm working on getting over it/considering abandoning the meat eating.
03 Yes
04 No.
05 I'm in school now.
06 A goat face

lauren said...

goat-face slippers, Abby! if i saw you on the street in them i would compel you to go have a drink with me immediately.

rachel, it's good that we're as close in age as we are. if i'd done a terrible job of teaching you how to shoot at camp scherman i'd never forgive myself (though that would be a great dickensian coincidence - and speaking of, boy, the twelve is all about that, innit?).

Hannah Mae said...

I have taken a chicken apart! Solemnly witnessed his death, dunked him in boiling water, plucked him, dismembered him - one hand on the knife, the other in the homesteading book, trying to identify parts from, not even a diagram, but a description. And, reader, I ate him. It was situational, it was a pride thing, it was obscurely about animal respect (if he's got to be killed, then he's got to be eaten, then he's going to be a proper feast, then I have to be the one to cook him, then I have to eat some), it was the first time I had ever dismembered anything larger than an insect, it was the first chicken I had eaten in twenty-one years and it was probably the last chicken I will ever eat in my life, although I did think that milestone passed twenty-one years ago, so one never knows. Pass me those onions.

(Also, I am taking a women's history class right this very semester. Now would be a good time to bring up "The Sexual Politics of Meat.")

lauren said...

i remember you writing about that, hannah, and was both horrified and somehow impressed. just tried to reserve the sexual politics of meat at my local and learned i need to specify my visit date; nypl, i don't have time to bleed! but i will work on this.

neither here nor there, but i did an extremely shitty job of dicing two shallots the other night. those little scamps are tricky.