"You know who's really hard on their knives? Vegans."
I have a real treasure in my neighborhood. Louise Radanovich is an expert knife sharpener, a master of her craft. She goes from home to home in an amazing little workshop of a trailer, fitted out with all the heavy equipment needed to do a really great job on just about any kitchen knife — not to mention scissors, shears, axes, reel lawnmowers, and all sorts of other sharp implements. An hour with Louise, and even the rustiest old piece of forgotten equipment will be restored to a gleaming state. I love watching her work, too; she keeps a damp folded paper towel in front of her as she sharpens, and tests the knives on it. When they flow through it like butter they're finished.
Yes, I could learn how to sharpen my knives myself, I suppose, but it's not worth it to me, when Louise is such a treasure trove of expertise, craftsmanship, and information. Last time she came we chatted for over an hour about all sorts of knife-related topics, including the good quote above. She also used to be an arborist, so she came out back and gave some very sage (and organic) advice on two ailing apple trees in the back yard, and kept up a side commentary on all the sorts of knives she sees in her work around town.
So can you guess why vegans are hard on their knives?
It's all those hard vegetables, of course! Meat is tender and easy, compared to the butternut squash and rutabagas of the vegetable world. I eat a lot of those vegetables too, and it was a good reminder to have my knives sharpened every fall.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, don't forget to check your knives before the holiday rush! There's no substitute for a wicked sharp knife, and a thoroughly professional sharpening should only really be necessary once a year. I know that my knives hold their edge for about that long, which is too bad, because I love talking to Louise and need to find an excuse for her to come round more often.
How do you sharpen your knives? Have you had it done lately? Here are a couple links on getting your knives sharpened, and on how to steel (or straighten the edge) of a knife, which is a very helpful and necessary process but not a substitute for actual sharpening.
• Knife Skills: Keeping Your Knife Sharp
• Leaving Town? Drop Off Your Knives to be Sharpened
• Get Your Knives Sharpened By Mail
And if you're in the Columbus, Ohio, area, do give Louise a call!
• Sharpening On Site
(Image: Flickr member clip works licensed for use under Creative Commons)