I love travelling and staying in rental places with a kitchen. I know, I’m weird. Most people think of vacation as including a break from cooking, but this is how I relax. And I usually bring my own knives. I’m not trying to be all pretentious, but it really does affect my whole experience if I have to work with shitty tools, so I bring my own because the knives in rental homes invariably suck. Too much baggage you say? I think not. Cooking is one of my biggest creative outlets, and I enjoy doing it every day, home or away. It is legitimately my hobby, and just like other people might bring their golf clubs or tennis racket on a trip, I bring my favorite knife.
Cooking with shitty knives makes cooking feel like a chore instead of a joy. When I cook I most love that feeling of being “in the flow”, creating, planning, timing, moving with ease about my kitchen and a cheap, dull knife blocks that flow. I’ve got to work harder to make things happen and that’s not fun. But with my trusty steel in my hand, I can navigate a rental kitchen with all of its crappy, mismatched cookware, dreaded induction cooktop and weird smelling utensil drawers. And that is part of the adventure – making delicious food in unfamiliar and less than ideal circumstances. But my knife, my most useful and beloved tool, that I won’t compromise and travel without anymore, lest cooking become a bummer and a burden.
Knives don’t have to be intimidating. Find one that fits in your hand comfortably, feels sturdy but not too heavy and has a sharp blade. You won’t feel like you have to work hard to cut stuff when you are using the right knife. I have had the same set of Global knives for almost 20 years and I still love them and use them everyday. My favorite is a big badass cleaver-kinda situation. Great for chopping veg, which I do a lot, and the wide flat blade is perfect for whacking garlic. I also have a serrated knife for slicing bread and stuff that is softer like tomatoes. My small paring knife is perfect for smaller jobs like taking the tops off of strawberries, opening packages (I know, it dulls the blade) and peeling potatoes. Not sure why, but I prefer to peel potatoes in my hand with a small knife. It just feels right, but as previously mentioned, I’m weird.
And I get it why rentals don’t stock good knives. People don’t know how or don’t take the time to care for them properly. They throw them in the dishwasher (shudder), instead of washing and drying them lovingly by hand. They use them for all variety of non-cooking related jobs such as opening bags, boxes and beers. Or as a substitute for other tools like screwdrivers. They leave them out in the sun, sand and surf. So why bother? Those of us who care enough can and will just bring our own.