If you open any foreign cookery book, you will find reams written on, “the right pan for this and the correct knife for that”. Like the store cupboard, you will end up with drawers full of unnecessary gadgets (how often would you really use an apple corer, an olive stoner or an oyster opener?). And don’t believe that the most expensive is necessarily the best. Yes, of course, you tend to get what you pay for, but if that ten rupee potato peeler feels right, why buy the one that costs a hundred because it is “imported” and looks flashy. I am guilty of all of the above and have firmly learnt my lesson. So has my bank balance.
And yet there are small things that make your cooking more efficient, economical or enjoyable. Let’s start off with a good knife. There are plenty of really bad ones available. I personally detest those little ones with 3 inch serrated blades. It takes a deft hand and a long time to cut efficiently with them. I have neither. They are cheap though. They are made for dwarfs who make laborious hard work out of the simple task of chopping. They don’t last long either. In the case of a first knife, size really does count. Choose one which is strong and firm, is about 7 inches long and feels good in your hand. Yes, we are talking about knives. The blade should be one piece and come all the way into the handle. If you are serious about cooking, then go for one of the German brands like WMF, Zwilling or Felix. Things German, as we all know, tend to be reliable and long lasting, though may be a trifle boring to look at. Those sexy Japanese Global steel ones with one single blade which continue into a perforated designer handle, tend to be over priced but once you use one, like all good things, you will never use anything else. Once you start cooking a variety of things, you will of course need a paring knife (small one with a sharp tip and a really sharp blade for little, complicated jobs like taking the skin off fish or vegetable carving), a big cook’s knife for hacking and chopping and a long, sharp meat carving knife. A good bread knife is indispensable in my kitchen.