If you like vegetables and you like to cook, I’d say there are three things you absolutely need: a great knife, a nice cutting board, and a decent soup pot.
Now, what does it say about me that I failed to buy two out of those three things for myself? I’d say it means I am too cheap for my own good. Also, that I am very lucky to have someone in my life who gives me knives and wooden chopping blocks for my birthday.
I am so in love with everything in that picture up there, especially the hands. I know they’re a little blurry because this is an action shot, but please, just look at that thumb! Isn’t it great, holding the onion in place, keeping things moving along smoothly? I have found the absolute best hand model, and, as if that weren’t enough, my hand model will cook for me upon request. I feel all warm and flirty just thinking about it.
In what must have been an infatuation-induced spending spree, just a few months after we started seeing each other, Matt bought me three great knives from J.A. Henckels: a paring knife, a mid-sized all-purpose knife, and a huge chef’s knife. He also bought me a snazzy and very sharp-toothed bread knife, as well as a parade of other kitchen goodies. To be honest, I was overwhelmed by his generosity, even a little embarrassed. Before him, I’d never dated anyone who was a really fantastic gift-giver, so I was blown away by his thoughtfulness. I also, in the back of my mind, wondered if this was a little like giving himself a present—in the best way possible, of course. We cooked so many things together during that New Year’s visit of his—soup and stew and roasted potatoes and tofu scramble. We ate well, even though we spent most of our time on the couch while Matt nursed a cold and I kept him company. The food made our time together brighter and cozier, as snow swirled in the frozen Chicago air outside my windows. Given all the cooking we had done, I wondered if Matt was thinking he might cook in my kitchen again and therefore have the chance to put those sharp knives to good use.
If he had that thought, he was totally right.
Now that we’ve been together through several rounds of birthdays, I can’t imagine my kitchen without his influence. It’s not really about the knives, per se, although they are very nice. It’s about how Matt has taught me to value my own quality of life. It was hard for me to think about this idea when I was still a PhD student. I was just trying to get out of graduate school alive. I considered it a victory that most nights I cooked a “real” dinner and not frozen pizza. It was important to me to have what felt like a home life, something that existed independently of my academic life. Cooking was, and still is, a huge part of that home life. To imagine something beyond that was nearly impossible. But with Matt, nothing is impossible. It’s one of the reasons I adore him.
Matt and I have very different attitudes toward money. The truth is that I want to be more like him. He invests in his happiness. I inherited my parents’ “just-getting-by” attitude. At some point, though, just getting by starts to feel bleak. To look into the future and realize that you can do things NOW to make things better for your future self—that’s dreaming, in the best way possible.
I want to be a dreamer. I already know that I’m a get-it-done kind of person, but a dreamer? Who imagines big, beautiful, sparkling, happy dreams? Even in a recession? Yes, that’s who I want to be. And yes, kitchen knives are an important part of dreaming, especially if your dreams take place inside a kitchen. I know mine do—or at least some of them do.
To be continued…