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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Messermeister knives

Messerschmidt cooking tools.

This past summer, just before Little Bean was born, the Chef and I went to a picnic in the park. We brought brownies, which were gobbled up immediately. No one knew they were gluten-free. No one cared.
In a rush before the party, we grabbed the first knife from the drawer for the cutting of the brownies. The sharp little knife that has Gluten-Free Girl emblazoned on the blade.
As someone lifted the dark brownies from the pan, she saw the writing on the blade of the knife underneath the chocolate. "Gluten-Free Girl? I've heard of her. Doesn't she have a blog?"
I sort of shyly raised my hand. "Yep. That's me."

That's the first (and hopefully the only) time I've been recognized via a knife.

The good folks at Messermeister knives sent me two knives, quite awhile ago. They asked if I'd try them. I like a good knife. I said yes. To my amusement (and a little embarrassment), both the chef's knife and paring knife had Gluten-Free Girl on the blades. Putting the knives on this site felt too self-referential. I didn't.

Life happened. A lot of life happened. (wedding, book tour, baby, move) Meanwhile, I've been using those knives -- and the julienne peeler they also sent me — nearly every day. The knives sit comfortably in my hand, with a heavy weight and a light blade. I feel powerful when I use them. Capable in the kitchen.

The writing has worn off. (You can still sort of see it if you squint.) But the knives have stayed in our kitchen, when others have gone away. I'm not sure what I'd do without these, and my white-handled Russell chef's knife (cost about $30), which feels as familiar in my hand as my baseball glove does about July. The sound of these knives tapping on the cutting board and the sight of them in the Chef's hand as he works are part of the daily beauty of my life.

If you're looking for a great knife you will use for years? Here you are.

What are your favorite kinds of knives?



Blogger Pearl said...

i'm so glad to see a knife recommendation that is more... "realistically priced." i really can't see myself paying $120 for a chef's knife..

thanks for sharing :)

March 25, 2009 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Redhead said...

My favourite knife is Zwilling Henckels chef's knife... am I considered weird (for a woman) that I do not allow my husband to sharpen it?

The other knife I use all the time is a cheapo paring knife... about 10 yrs old now... but it really works for me.

March 25, 2009 at 2:46 AM  
Anonymous Pamela said...

De-lurking to share my favourite knife. A Satake No-Vac knife my sister bought - although I chose - for my 40th and which has been in constant use ever since. Good size blade, perfectly balanced and literally seems to cope with anything. It is like an extension of my right hand. It wasn't expensive, somewhere around £40 and definitely down in cheaper end of the range of knives I had to choose from. If anything happened to it I would have to get another one immediately, probably off the internet as the shop no longer sells this range of knives as I discovered when I wanted to buy another one in a different size.

March 25, 2009 at 3:51 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

Thank you! I love having a knife that fits my hand. Best tool to have in the kitchen, sharp perfect knife.

March 25, 2009 at 3:54 AM  
OpenID said...

I do need a good knife. Thanks for the recommendation! Now how do I go about getting a pair sent to me?

March 25, 2009 at 4:29 AM  
Blogger Lora said...

I have a set of Henckels knives that I adore. They are serrated, which I love, are the perfect weight and size for my "larger than average" lady hands, and I can't imagine ever using anything else. They were a gift from my parents about 15 years ago and I use them every single day. I don't understand people who don't use a decent knife! My BFF has the world's crappiest knives...I hate helping her in the kitchen when I visit. I keep saying that one of these days I'm going to get her a good set. Maybe this is the year!

March 25, 2009 at 7:37 AM  
Anonymous kadams said...

As a wedding gift from the in-laws we got Global knives. My husband registered for them, that was the only thing he wanted. I was disgusted by the price and thought how could they be worth it. But I have changed my mind several times over.

March 25, 2009 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Dr. Jean Layton said...

Ah, the right knife. It truly changes the way you cook, when you have the knife that fits your hand perfectly.

I have had my favorite for at least 18 years. Got it as a chef for God's Love We Deliver. I think its a Henckel.

We got the twins their own chefs knives this Christmas on a trip to NYC.
It was such fun to go up to Zabar's second floor and let them feel each knife till they found their fit.
I was so happy that the knife guy was patient, pulling out each 6" chefs knife and letting them play chop to test the heft.
They each ended up with the Zabars knife. Best Birtday present ever!

March 25, 2009 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

My favorite knife right now is a santuku knife from wusthof ($80.00 Amazon special), my bf's is a henckle santuku knife ($30 Target). My favorite paring knife is a cheapy from Chicago Cutlery, but it sharpens well and is nice and small for my hand. The blade is also nice and thin so I can peel items with ease.

March 25, 2009 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Janel said...

My favorite one is a chef knife from a set of Henckel knives that my parents gave us a couple years ago for a Christmas gift. It fits perfectly in my hand.

Mom said the block of knives, sharpener, and six steak knives on sale at Target for $60...What a steal! I had to bring them back to Holland in my suitcase, but it was so worthwhile as Henckel knives are much more expensive here. I don't know why.

For vegetable graters, you can't beat an Oxo one!

March 26, 2009 at 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Sho said...

(I have never had real knives before.) Based on the mode of these comments, I will look into the Henckels.

March 26, 2009 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have a demo set of Cutco from a brief stint as one of their sales people early in my college days. The people I knew couldn't budget that much for knives, but I have to say they've been well worth the money--and their warranty & sharpening service is all it's cracked up to be

March 26, 2009 at 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Katherine said...

Knives...knives knives! I join all those who despair at the paucity of good blades in other people's kitchens! We have a mix of Sabatier (nice and heavy), Global (lethal when tired, I have so many thumb slice scars!) and Porsche 301. The Porsche Chef's knife was a present and it's fabulous, we've since got the carving set and the fillet knife. I really like the weighting of them and it makes cooking SO much easier! Paring knifes are all cheap as chips and old as the hills, wouldn't be without them. Oh and our weird Good Grips Bread knife which is amazing, even on crumbly GF stuff. We have a small kitchen and the Eva Solo Angled Knife Block is a miracle as it takes up so much less space than any other block we looked at.

Now, all I need is a proper knife roll so I can travel with them, but having imported the Porsche carving set into the UK from Belguim, hidden in DH's bag as it didn't fit in mine and having to get through customs (SO nerveracking!) it'll be UK only travel!!!

March 27, 2009 at 6:49 AM  
Anonymous alane said...

I'm a Global girl. When I picked up the asian chefs knife for the first time the fit was (and is) so good that the knife felt like an extension of my hand. Kind of a Sweeney-Todd-at -last-my-arm-is-whole-again moment but without the murder and mayhem. Like most Japanese knives, Globals take an extremely sharp edge but they need to be sharpened more often than my Henckles.

March 29, 2009 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Amanda on Maui said...

I know there are cheap Henckles made in India, and there are good Henckles made in Europe. From what it sounds like, you're all using the cheaper ones (Target) and loving them. That's great to know. I've been eyeing them forever, and Costco often has a large set for 160. I'll definitely keep this all in mind.
I'm also going to do some research on the Messermeister knives.

March 30, 2009 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Count me as another Henckels girl. 8" chef's knife. Oh, and I have one of their bread knives as well, which I also love, but slightly less so than the chef's knife because it's serrated (and thus isn't easily sharpenable at home).

And just like everyone else here, I wax poetic about the importance of knives. I scream about it every chance I get, how bad knives cripple you, how (good golly) everyone needs at least one good knife, how I just about lost it when an acquaintance's snotty, wanna-be-gourmet-but-really-just-learned-survival-cooking-'cos-he's-vegan husband handed me a glass cutting board and the worst possible knife I've ever seen in my life when cooking at their place over the holidays. I just wanted to run right out right then and buy them a decent cutting board and a non-sucky knife. I actually had a really hard time buying a wedding gift for a friend because she had registered for several pretty (but not so great) knives, and I had told her I would be buying her a knife, and then had to (out of respect for her list) buy her a knife I wouldn't even consider using myself.

Ah, knife-snobbery! I'll have to check out the Messermeisters. Maybe it'll be a new knife for me to add to the collection...

March 31, 2009 at 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a Messermeister. It is the best knife I have ever own! This knife feels so much better in your hand than a Henckels and Wusthof and they are less expensive by $20 or so. They aslo have a great policy where you can send in your knife to get sharpened back to the factory edge for free.

As far as spending $100 on a chef's knife...this purchase should last a lifetime. That is not bad for a staple in your kitchen.

April 1, 2009 at 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought a set of Cutco knives in 1969 - yes 40 years ago!!! I've tried other knives through the years thinking I couldn't have possibly made the best decision when I was 19 years old. I always go back to my Cutco knives. When they need sharpening, I send them in or call a local rep who stops by to accommodate.

April 6, 2009 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Heather M said...

I am just now inching away from recipes. What's helped has been a LOT of reading about cooking, a lot of tasting what I'm making, and some helpful hints regarding reworkable formulas (pasta, meat, greens, cheese, for example).

I would love to see where this book takes me!

April 8, 2009 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Heather M said...

I would adore a new knife, no matter the kind. I recently got my first real chef's knife and am so pleased with the results.

I would love to purchase a few more knives for other purposes but will stick with my mediocre knife block set knives for the moment for lack of funds. The Messermeister knives look so sturdy and well-constructed.

April 8, 2009 at 7:14 AM  
Anonymous melody said...

For me, it all starts with a really great knife...there is something about standing above the cutting board, instrument poised in hand to start creating.

April 10, 2009 at 5:54 AM  
Blogger theater simpleton said...

Wow - my bro-in-law (a pro chef) has several different styles of knives, and I was introduced to a cermaic Japanese one this year, and a messermeister... since the last knives I bought for myself were pruchased at Safeway (!) it was QUITE an experience to help him in the kitchen at Christmas... I kept expecting the knives to cut everything magically by themselves! Cool to see someone TALK about they whys and wherefores ofr themselves, as well... maybe I'll save up and get one for my sweetie on our 20th anniversary... be inspired then to use them on something delightfully yummy...

April 10, 2009 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Yoder said...

Wow, some sharp nice knives would be just the thing to start my new cooking adventure! I'm sort of a very armature food enthusiast and have slowly started to broaden my cooking skills because of this. then just today I decided a good way to move this along would be to “cook by country”! That is cook one recipe for each country of the world based on there local cuisine (I also love to travel) sooooo, new knives would be a great way to start off this adventure! I own one good knife which I use for everything, and thus end up sharpening it all the time. In the end I hope to document the process in some sort of blog format, however writing hasn’t been my thing, so it may end up being more of a picture book documentation. And any rate, I’d say those are some great reasons you should pick me to receive some new knives. My fingers will thank you!

April 16, 2009 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

I just wanted to thank you for your Messermeister peeler recommendation! I got one and it is da bomb! One caveat, though -- for any other lefties out there, only the smooth-bladed swivel peelers will work for you. The julienne peeler is set up for right-handed use only. I am now looking for a right-handed, peeler-less friend to gift mine to.

May 15, 2009 at 10:09 PM  

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