Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Aphorism Forty-Two: (One of a Series; Collect the Whole Set!)

Maybe I haven't been dumping out as many aphorisms lately, or maybe — and it may be a sign of extreme mental health — I haven't been listening to myself as much. Probably that.

Anyway, I fell across this one in a Chinese cookbook. A great Chinese cookbook, maybe the great Chinese cookbook in English: The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo. The first cuisine I ever really got involved with (unless you count cooking as a short-order cook in a wino cafe named "Stanley's," even though the neon outside said "Swede's," just right across from the post office in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, as being involved with a cuisine) was Chinese. It's a long story that I'll spare you, because I like these aphoristic deals to be brief. Or brief by my standards, anyway. But brief, just the same.

To this day I still cut almost everything with a cleaver, just as I learned in Chinese cooking, in those Chinese restaurant kitchens in Oakland and San Francisco, and Ms. Kuo's very thorough and accomplished book is clear and direct on cleaver technique, as it is on anything she touches. Discussing the great kitchen truth — the Great Life Truth — of why a sharp knife is safer than a dull one, she says:

"A razor edged cleaver sobers one's mind and sharpens vigilence."

If fortune cookies read that crisply, well, we'd probably stop putting "in bed" on the end.