Kitchen Tranny?

Photo: Flickr/Aleksey Fursov

Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Guest Contributor
Slow Food Boston

I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that I’m a wee bit different from all the other ladies. High ring-to-index finger ratio? Check! Excessively good sense of direction? Check! Inability to determine WTH people are feeling in these photo pairs? Check! But nothing brings out my incipient case of gender identity disorder like being in the kitchen. Not for me are the gentler culinary arts—the coddling of eggs, the whisking of dressings, the folding of batter, the stirring of soup. No, what I like is knives.

There’s a sharp implement for every situation. This month’s phone bill has a bunch of mysterious calls and texts to Paris, where your husband’s ex-girlfriend lives? Eviscerate a head of cabbage with an enormous Chinese cleaver. Another round of résumés disappeared into the Internet abyss without a trace? Dismember carrots and celery with an evilly honed chef’s blade. Kids a) screaming at 120 decibels, b) jumping on furniture and c) pummeling their siblings? Pulp a pound of plum tomatoes with a parer.

Of course, blade therapy is only as good as the blade. Just try reducing a broccoli head to florets with that $14.99 slicer from Wal-Mart. Did it skitter down the stem like a politician avoiding a promise? Did it require the application of 5 Gs of force to actually cut? Caution! You may find yourself increasingly sluggish and apathetic, yet another victim of crappy-cutlery-induced depression. I say, chuck it. Your hostility deserve the very best!

Lucky for us, the very best is made right here in Massachusetts, in Shelburne Falls, a tiny agricultural community about an hour from Boston. Lamson & Goodnow was founded in 1834 to produce scythes with an amazing new technology—curved handles!—and is one of only two companies nationwide to make chef-quality knives. (The other is Dexter-Russell, also in Massachusetts.) Recently my friend and cocinero latino extraordinaire Brian Amador broke his ancient but beloved Wüsthof. Heartbroken, he visited Stoddard’s Cutlery in Watertown (the nation’s oldest cutlery store) for a replacement. But there, he learned that Wüsthof is now—horrors!—entirely factory-made. No need to despair, they told him, there’s a little local company that still hand forges Solingen high-carbon steel and for just about the same price. Here’s Brian’s rave about his new LamsonSharp.

“The knife is gorgeous, perfectly balanced, wide blade, resin-injected wood handle (kind of like plasticized wood —impervious to water but you can still see the grain), and it cost me less than it would have to buy a factory-made, imported knife. I’m always happy to see this kind of high quality manufacturing happening in the US, especially here in Massachusetts. Plus, I discovered what a great store Stoddard’s is. Dave [the owner] was super nice and knowledgeable, he gave me a great price on the knife, and he said I could drop by any time and he would show me the professional way to sharpen a knife.”

Isn’t it time you got in touch with your inner slasher?

P.S. Worried about going shopping because you don’t know How to Talk Knives Like a “Dude?” Lace conversation with the following terms:

Forged A blade made by pouring molten steel into a mold and then cooling, heating, pounding, cooling, heating, pounding, cooling, heating, pounding, etc.
Stamped A blade punched out of a sheet of metal with a special cutter.
Tang The part of the blade that’s in the handle. The deeper, the better.
Heel Part of blade furthest away from the point.
Butt What it sounds like: the rear part of the handle.

7 thoughts on “Kitchen Tranny?

  1. Mel

    I <3 a great knife sooooo much! I HATE touching crap knives.

    My mother-in-law, a lovely woman in other ways, hates cooking and I believe it's mostly because she's never touched a decent knife. Splitting a simple english muffin in her kitchen is a nightmare. I use my hands, and as they might have said in the old Ginsu ads, this does not work with a grapefruit (she lives in Florida)

    There are so many people to whom I'd love to give a decent knife but people are so superstitious about it and they get freaked out.

    Anyway, thanks for the knife-source referral!

  2. Vincent Cerasuolo

    Funny and informative, but I have met you a few times Anastacia, and if you are a “tranny” of any sort then I had better rethink my own gender identity a bit. ;)

  3. Natasha H

    I love it when someone brings light and laughter to the kitchen.

    You spark the mundane, thank you!

  4. kevin mcgrath

    Pretty amazing, Anastacia! You have led us to something that we never expected. GREAT!

  5. escribner

    i must admit. I never had a tranny in my Kitchen but being married to a Chinese Woman,Knives in her hand have a very fascinating way of slashing thru food of all types. Your article tickle my fancy.

  6. Melbi

    I like your sense of humour and I bet you already found a good blade to peel and cut yucca. Greetings from Ecuador.