The Knife Block

By Federica Marziale

Week 05

To be considered by anthropologists as the first tool designed by man at the dawn of time, the knife is certainly an object of perfect design: a sharp blade, precise, thin, cold, shaped and fashioned to hunt and defend oneself.
The knife is an object “without alternative”, its function and acclaim is defined by the shape and material of which it is composed, no more and no less. Carving knife, santoku, serrated, butcher, paring knife, roasting knife, boning knife and mincing knife: every knife has a diverse blade whose form has been fashioned in order to perform precise tasks, and every knife describes, through its elegant and silent form, an appropriate technique by which to use it.
Together these knives are a family of fascinating, dangerous, sharp and soundless tools. Reunited in the knife block, the tools rest in a military formation, attentive, ordered, clean, and masterfully arranged to protect their blades, until they are ready to be sequestered and put to work.

A tool so delicate and at times imprudent, it requires immense skill and knowledge to know how to handle it properly, so much so that for many using a knife becomes something strictly personal, often linked to rituals of use, sharpening and subsequent cleaning. In the preparation of foods, many chefs possess two personal knife sets. After having used one, it must be laid to rest and freed from all odours. In the interim they use the other set and vice versa.
Rules and hierarchies, inspired perhaps by the very nature of the knife itself, mark each task that requires the use of a tool so precious, harsh, prevalent and pointed. Each knife is the confidence of its blade, the understanding of its hilt and the temperament of the individual who uses it.