The Chinese cleaver is my favorite, a surprise gift from my husband (ex now) about twenty years ago. He was a man who could fix anything, loved good tools, and never knew what to buy me when some dreaded gift occasion loomed. I usually gave him big hints, just to make it easier for him, and he usually took them, but this gift was his own idea and the best ever. I have tried to replace my Chinese cleaver, likely purchased in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and recently spent fifty bucks (reduced from $140) on a big all-purpose stainless steel job, but it quickly got dull. I’ll have to learn how to sharpen it, as the carbon steel blade on my cleaver rarely needed doctoring, despite the nicks suffered from overly ambitious whacks.
The serrated knife I bought, along with five others like it, a couple years ago at a garage sale for 35 cents. This thin, flexible blade slips through almost any fruit without effort.
The smallest knife, bought at a dollar store for fifty cents, is a perfect mushroom knife. The thin, flexible blade, which seems to stay sharp despite daily use, slices up (among other things) a softish mushroom without fuss. I bring one of these (I buy these in four-packs) with me on my wild mushroom hunts along with a pile of old-fashioned lunchbags–remember how small they used to be?– to separate the edibles from the maybe-could-killyas.
Finally, another garage sale treasure from so long ago I can’t remember: my Bakelite-handled butter knife, with a thin stainless blade that is flexible, not stiff like flatware knife blades today. It spreads anything in an extra-thin layer and can even work as a skinny spatula when I can’t find a pie server.
Because I have long suffered tendonitis in my wrists, knives that cut without much effort I find essential.