In February 2007, I wrote a story about Central Market’s cooking classes, a piece that was a blast to research, as I learned to make several varieties of sushi and the best-ever chocolate cookie. (The secret cookie ingredient is salt, which makes the sweet taste of the chocolate even stronger). What I did not learn, however, was how to properly use a knife.
Now, I’ve been using knives to slice and dice things since I was in pre-K, when one particular long-haired, jute-sandal-wearing teacher taught the class to cut carrots, perhaps envisioning us busy preparing meals at his vegetarian commune. (It was the Sixties, after all.)
But after having my knives sharpened recently, and discovering after some fervent chopping that the tips of my index fingers bore unsightly nicks, I decided to sign up for Central Market’s Knife Skills 101 class, a three-hour, Sunday-evening course ($75) that emphasized safety. During the two months it took me to get in (this class is pretty popular), I wisely abstained from hosting any dinner parties.
The night of the class, twenty or so students filed in to see instructor Cindy Haenel expertly sharpening her tools on a large whetstone. She inspected our knives and sharpened any dull blades before demonstrating time-saving (and safe!) methods of chopping onions, tomatoes, and carrots, using our knuckles (not our fingertips) of our left hand as a guide for the blade. (Turns out I’ve been holding the knife improperly for the past four decades; it’s a wonder I have any digits left at all.) It has taken awhile to break old (bad) habits, but I can once again safely invite guests to dinner.
Find out the schedule for Central Market’s cooking school classes (in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Plano) at www.centralmarket.com.