Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All Thumbs. . .

I like to think myself pretty fearless in the kitchen. I'm reasonably comfortable tackling a variety of foods and I have experience with most gadgets available on the market today (as well as a whole slew of vintage ones). But as a professional cook, I lack a critical instrument. I used to own one. I adored it. But one of its own kind betrayed me and I had to forsake them all.

It was a mandoline.

More than three years ago while working at Williams-Sonoma, I was happily preparing foods for sampling. I think I was slicing sweet potatoes, cooking them on the panini grill then topping them with a dip of some variety. Addictively tasty as I recall, and fun to boot. Mid-day I was getting a little lax and wasn't giving the mandoline the respect it deserved and in lazy haste, I found my right thumb rammed quite forcefully into the surgically sharp blade.

Now, that was a part of my life when I wasn't necessarily seeking new experiences, but that day, I enjoyed (hmmm, now that's a rather strong word) my first visit to an emergency room, as well as my first visible stitches. Right through my thumbnail.

That began my stomach-wrenching aversion to mandolines. I had to get rid of the one I owned. I could barely walk past them in a kitchen store. Even the suggestion of one would bring me back to that fateful day. And though I was terribly ill at ease with the notion of the slicer, I craved the ability to uniformly portion and julienne with ease.

So last night I returned to Williams-Sonoma with a mission in mind. I would consider one. Not the very brand which is responsible (ok, I'm responsible) for my still-tingly digit, but a "starter." I took a deep breath, looked to the very spot on the counter where I did my damage and handed over my debit card. I am once again the proud, albeit nervous, owner of a mandoline.

Now if I could dredge up the courage to open the box. . .

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