Learn to love Japanese knives

Working with a Japanese knife in the kitchen for the first time must have felt so impressive that it left a lasting impression on me. To say that I actually remember if it was a santoku knife or any other Japanese kitchen knife would be fibbing, but it has developed into a great passion.

Who does not know it: You are a guest of friends or family and spontaneously decide to prepare a small meal, want to contribute and ask the host for a chef's knife. What then usually happens is a small tragedy. It is referred to a small drawer, from which one should then take a "knife". Now you have to manage to identify the most suitable knife and get started. First you cut a cucumber, where the knife still works halfway, and then comes the tragedy, the tomato. You put the knife on, can barely cut through the skin and crushes the tomato rather than cutting it. The whole thing ends then in a liquid tomato juice salad while I have to fight with strong inner turmoil, which would love to throw the knife along with tomatoes in a high arc in the barrel.

After the tragedy follows the freestyle: With tact I try to point out the knife situation, which from my point of view is unfortunate. Most of the time, my nerves are put to the test again, and I am told that these knives were bought from a German manufacturer and are therefore of the best quality. Carefully, I then try to point out that this German value work is unfortunately nowadays often made in China in a fast-track process and then slowly segue into my raving about hand-forged Japanese knives and what makes a Japanese chef's knife so special.

Until then, my audience always seems very interested in what I have to say, until the question comes "..and how much does the fun cost?". With the answer to this question, the interest then often ends abruptly and I reap shocked looks, because most people are not ready at the first moment to spend a hundred euros and more for a Japanese chef's knife. Since words are rather a waste of love here, I prefer to let actions speak and have gladly given away such a knife in recent years. And lo and behold, on a later visit I often find that not only has my gift of a Japanese knife been very well received and displaced the other knives from the kitchen, but that it is now in the company of other hand-forged Japanese knives.

In the meantime, I often experience that the initial skeptic has advanced to a convinced fan of Japanese knives. Then I mentally pat myself on the back and contentedly enter into discussions about Gyuto knives, Bunka knives and Co. and am surprised how intensively one or the other has informed himself about Japanese knife types, knife steels and other properties.