The intersection of three things over the last little while made me think of three knives I have in the kitchen drawer and how my Mom is connected to all three. Anthony Bourdain, a Napoleon Apollo 3-1 Smoker-Cooker-Grill and my goalie getting surprised by his Mom on his 35th birthday party.
1. Bourdain: I just watched this:
Great series where Bourdain visits crafts people, making things by hand. They go through the process of making books, knives, cast iron pans, suits and then he has a drink of scotch at the end, provided by the sponsor. Good gig. This one is with a guy that makes amazing, hand-crafted knives down in Washington State. My mom was a phenomenal cook. She would have loved this. One of our last conversations before she passed away was about bad boy Bourdain and his book Kitchen Confidential. She loved the guy.
2. The Napoleon: the guys on my hockey team just chipped in on the Smoker-Cooker-Grill for, shall we just say, a milestone birthday of mine. I was joking with my wife that it's almost like buying your partner lingerie. It can be a gift for both of you (if the sizing is right). Yes, I can fit a whole brisket in that thing.
3. Pillow's Mom: The goalie of my old-timer hockey team, the Vancouver Island Silver Marmots, just hit official old-timer status by having his 35th birthday. We call him Pillows because he used to have tiny pads that looked like little pillows. (Yes, we are okay with the fact that most of us are over 40 and he's still young. Someone has to cover up for our bad back check.) His mom flew out to Victoria from Ontario and surprised him. Nice.
So the connection to the above three is about Mom's and cooking and knives and memories. The blade on the lower left is a heavy Craftsman from Sears. A gift from my Mom when I went off to work on a salmon fishing resort ship in Hakai Pass on BC's mid-coast. Heavy and chunky; it has seen a lot of miles. A perfect starter blade. She gave me a quarter with it. A superstition that she brought to Canada from Wales. Money with the gift of a knife offsets it's potential to cut a friendship or family tie. That, along with other superstitions like new shoes on a kitchen table bringing bad luck and the absolute cataclysmic weather results of opening an umbrella inside kept me on my toes as a kid.
The second knife is a cheap cleaver she picked up for me in Vancouver's Chinatown. It also came with a quarter. I remember her taking apart whole chickens and freezing the parts in meal-size portions in sets of Tupperware (those old, opaque white ones). At just under five feet (yes, the Welsh are a small people), she used to have to get up on stool, wield her cleaver over her head and bring it down with 'thwack' as she cut through a back, or chopped off a wing or leg. She used to get the chickens from the same farm she would procure the lambs that had been at the PNE petting zoo. That's another story, for another blog. I will use my cleaver on the ribs I intend to smoke low and slow in the new Napoleon.
The third blade is my Mom's. It's a not-too-expensive Henckels Twin Star. She spoiled herself one day and brought it home to feel like one of the chefs she watched on TV. Maybe she thought it was like the knives Bourdain used. I have it now. I use it all the time but can't bring myself to sharpen it, knowing that she was the last one to put an edge on it. I will get to it one day. It still can slice through a tomato with no problem. I am going to get it out tonight to cut up the toppings for some homemade pizza. We will eat at the table I made, by hand. I think she would be happy to know that.