My favorite thing to do with a knife is bang my fist on top of it. This is how you mince garlic, according to my dad, who showed me how: You lay a blade flat on top of the clove and bring your bare fist down on the knife, flattening and splaying the garlic. You would think you need a big blade to do this, but you don’t. A four-inch knife works just as well as a ten-inch chef’s knife — something I discovered firsthand as a college student, when the only knife I owned was a Kuhn Rikon paring knife. Mine was maraschino red, and like my garlic-smashing skill, my dad gave it to me.
I own plural regular-size knives now, but I also always keep at least a couple of these Swiss knives in my kitchen. It’s an easy habit to get into: The Kuhn Rikon Colori paring knives only cost $10 each, and come in an array of 13 glossy colors that give me a visceral taste-the-rainbow urge to collect them all. (Kuhn Rikon sells the whole color spectrum here.) The blades are Japanese steel and razor sharp, but come with plastic sheaths that make them easy to toss into a drawer or take on road trips. These are the same qualities that also make these little knives superb gifts. Over the years, I’ve given one (in pistachio green) to my sister, and another (in millennial pink, before we used that term) to my best friend. I’ve inadvertently gifted one (in tangerine) to some beloved former roommates, when I moved out and forgot to pack a bunch of stuff.
Unless specifically requested, you’d never buy a friend a chef’s knife because they probably already have one. But anyone could always use an extra paring knife — how else will you take people up, when they offer to help you get dinner ready? — and nobody will ever expect one in such an audacious color.
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