Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Life Improvements

When I was packing for Brazil, my veggie mate Erin asked me if I was going to bring my cherished Global Chef's knife along to visit South America. "What?! Nooooo," I answered. "I'm not that attached to my things. I'm going to be traveling around and can't really be bringing a knife in my luggage. I'll make due with whatever's there." After several weeks, I finally broke down and decided I couldn't deal with the flimsy carving tools in my Rio kitchen.

Walking on my way to get a cavaquinho, the Brazilian cousin to the ukulele (another thing I left behind in San Francisco; they have the same Portuguese grandparents), I passed by a shop called Rei das Facas, [King of Knives]. After some discussion with my new friend Oliveira ("Não sou vendedor, sou seu amigo!" ["I'm not a salesman, I'm your friend!"], I picked up this sturdy Tramontina 8" knife. "You just improved your life," Oliveira informed me with a twinkle in his eye, as he wrapped my knife in paper. Eager to welcome this new member into my home, I found it a cozy little basket with tea towel blankie.  Oliveira was right, and a life lesson was learned: always have a good knife. Your life will be better for it. I also recommend the Frenchie folding, wood-handled Opinel for bike trips and picnics. I use mine primarily for slicing apples and cheese.

This knife has made the most significant practical improvement in my day-to-day life here (I can't quite play the cavaquinho well enough yet for it to compete), but I've gotten more than my money's worth of cheap thrills from this R$8 purchase made at the Glória farmers' market, a combination mandolin and grater:

I've always wanted a mandolin for slicing vegetables but somehow never got around to buying one (the starting price of $30 always seemed to remind me of the need to abstain from the frivolities of late capitalism) . But I must admit, my life has received a bit of a new thrill and I find myself cooking potatoes just so I can put their little hat on and watch them slide slide sliiiiiide away into coin-shaped slivers. Or sometimes I just put the tiny hat on the potato and smile at it.


Smithy said...

Potato Buster Keaton in the last photo.

kale daikon said...

People go wild for things in tiny hats. I like to give them what they want.