This past Christmas, I gave my husband a really nice kitchen knife. O.K., O.K., I know you’re thinking, “Well, that’s not a very romantic gift.” For couples who have been married as long as we have, an offering like this could even be downright dangerous. (You know I’m just kidding…) Dwayne’s a great cook, though, and our knives have been dull for years, so I was actually very excited about this present. Six stitches later -- maybe just a little too excited.
For the record, Dwayne has never trusted my knife skills. Having had restaurant and hands-on culinary experience, he has been standing over my shoulder lecturing me about my poor habits for years. Of course, I respond to lectures from my spouse the way many people do – “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
I did, however, take him to heart when I was covering the Charlottesville Cooking School during the first season of “Charlottesville Inside-Out.” Due to my husband’s fear that eventually I would lose a finger while preparing salad, I asked instructor Martha Stafford -- on camera and as a gift to my husband in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary -- to teach me how to cut an onion. It was a fun and informative lesson, and no appendages were lost in the process.
With this experience under my belt, just after Christmas, I eagerly set out to make stew. I approached the glistening new kitchen knife with caution and awe. We were given a wonderful German knife as a wedding present almost twenty years ago, and I vaguely remembered what it felt like to work with a kitchen tool that actually cut without having to put the whole weight of your body behind it. At the same time, I could clearly hear Dwayne in the back of my head saying, “I’m not sure you should be using this knife.”
Regardless, I took it out of its protective sleeve and slowly and carefully cut an onion. Ahhh… The experience was euphoric! I was lightheaded from the lack of effort necessary to slice, dice and chop garlic, onions and carrots. Immediately, a dozen recipes popped into my head. My thoughts were racing… “I’m going to make this…I’m going to make that…” Armed with this new knife, the possibilities would be endless. I was giddy with thoughts of future culinary delights. That’s when it happened...
In all my excitement, I completely underestimated the proximity of the knife to the Crockpot. As I lifted the chopped ingredients to put them into the stew -- the razor-sharp utensil still in my right hand -- I jabbed the knife into the Crockpot, causing it to ricochet into the palm of my left hand.
A friend gave me a ride to the emergency room, and my husband met me there. He was very sweet about the accident and held my good hand while the doctor injected the open wound seven times with a needle to numb the incision before putting in stitches. (Seriously – after seven jabs to an open wound – why bother?) Dwayne lovingly told me I was brave and plied me with leftover holiday chocolates he pulled from his coat pockets to keep up my spirits.
I didn’t get a lecture from my husband – only sympathy. There was no scolding; no “I told you so.” After all, I didn’t actually hurt myself while in the process of cutting. No, he was just glad it wasn’t worse. He did gently offer to give me a few general tips on the handling of sharp knives, but that was it.
Ironically, it turned out to be a rather romantic gift after all.