Four years ago, when I first moved away from home, I went to the local supermarket and bought three knives: a short bladed one, a longer bladed one and a serrated one for cutting bread. Somewhere along the line, the serrated knife went the way of my medium saucepan lid and various other items in the communal kitchens (there is always a kitchen thief in uni halls, it’s a law of nature) so I arrived in my new flat with only the long and short knives, not as sharp as they had once been.
Alas, I am a clumsy blunderer and a few nights ago I managed to drop the long-bladed knife down the back of the oven. Despite pulling the oven out from the wall and lying on the floor to peer behind it, I couldn’t spot it anywhere. I did, however, spot a gap between the floorboards and the wall. I suspect my knife is now making the acquaintance of whatever beasties live in the walls of this Victorian terraced house.
One small knife with a short blunt blade is not really sufficient for chopping fruit and vegetables, and I was getting incredibly frustrated by trying to hack through a loaf of slightly stale bread with a butter knife. Lately I’ve adopted a policy of not buying anything unless I can afford to buy sufficient quality that it will last more than a couple of years. I’m fortunate, I know, in having that option. Some people simply have to buy the cheapest item available because they can’t afford to save up for the better quality version.
I did some research, looked at many reviews and online shops, and finally chose the Slice and Dice 5 piece knife set from Maxwell & Williams which had several good reviews, and was affordable (especially with 50% off). I was disappointed to have to reject the beautiful rainbow-bladed set in its transparent knife block, but it was more expensive and would take up countertop space I don’t have. Instead I opted for an elegant black and white set.
And today it arrived! I was impressed even before the delivery by the email I got, advising me that my parcel would arrive on Tuesday and offering me the opportunity to change the delivery day if necessary. As I was in university all day Tuesday but could be home on Wednesday, I availed myself of this service. This morning I got another email giving me a 1-hour slot for delivery. In the hour before that slot, I answered the doorbell three times and was handed three parcels, none of which were for me (I think I finally have a new neighbour, and he appears to have a lot of post!). Eventually I answered the door to a parcel which was addressed to me.
Several of the reviews I read commented that Maxwell & Williams package their products beautifully and that’s certainly true! Once I had opened the cardboard box and wrestled my way through the frankly unnecessary quantities of bubble wrap I pulled out this sleek red box. Can we just pause to reflect on the staggeringly wasteful packaging practices that distance-sellers use these days? I can certainly see the logic in wrapping fragile items carefully, but the cardboard box that my knives arrived in was at least four times deeper than necessary and full of bubble wrap which cocooned a box in which the knives were already securely fastened. You could have thrown the presentation box down a flight of stairs and although the tissue paper would probably have ripped and a corner might have got a bit bashed in, the knives would have remained flawless.
Anyway. Underneath the pointless-but-pretty red paper was a flat box with a cheery colourful logo on it (incidentally, if I remember correctly the logo colours are the same as the ones on the blades of the rainbow knives I didn’t buy – aren’t they pretty?).
The set contains every type of knife I can envision needing. The largest knife will be perfect for chopping larger vegetables, crushing garlic and so forth – it’s a general all-purpose knife. The second largest is the bread knife I’ve wanted for years (even the serrated knife I used to have wasn’t really large enough to cut through a loaf of bread), followed by a long bladed knife I suspect is designed for some kind of meat or fish cuttery, but I will use it for cutting up things like pizza, quiche or flans. Not that I make those often. But now if I do, I can cut them!
The second shortest knife looks perfect for cutting up oranges, which is something I do fairly frequently. The little one is probably a paring knife? I really know nothing about knives, as will probably be evident by this post, but I can tell it’s the right size for coring apple slices, chopping mushrooms and so forth. To be quite honest I could probably have managed with just the largest two knives and the second smallest but none of the sets I found had that option, and buying separately wasn’t financially sensible.
As you can see from the picture above, each knife comes with its own sheaf. This was the cincher for me, because I don’t have space for a knife block but I certainly wasn’t going to put a set of uncovered knives into my cutlery drawer – not good for the blades, not good for my fingers. I also feel a bit like a Shakespearean hero challenging someone to a duel when I unsheath one of the knives, although that novelty might wear off eventually.
The black and white handles are clever too – the white contrasts against the dark blade, so should be easy to see in the washing up bowl or drawer. I also think they look a little like penguins lining up for a parade, which of course is an essential element of any kitchen. Now I’m off to test them by chopping up vegetables for a hearty autumn soup!