Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On Mandolines and realizing that there is sometimes a point

I've owned a mandoline for several years now and used it with the same impunity that I use serrated knives for tomatos and sharp paring knives for cucumbers. I cut towards myself because I am uncoordinated and cannot make a decent slice otherwise.
I've paid for this flaw as proven by the scars on my pinky fingers, forefingers, and the occasional loss of a finger nail. The mandoline has caused me the odd knuckle bruise or scrape, nothing serious. Until now.

I have never paid as dearly for my insolence towards sharp edges as I did Saturday slicing red potatoes for a new recipe.

See, the mandoline has a food-holder that is designed to protect your fingers from the very, very, very sharp blade that cuts the food. I simply never bought into the design of that food holder, especially for shorter foods like round red potatoes and figured I'd be slicing more food by hand than by machine if I used the holder.

As my first red potato became smaller I put the palm of my hand on it to guide the last bit through the slicer. Pinky finger first. I promptly lost an eighth of an inch of meat and skin from that little finger and began bleeding professionally. You know, like it was my job to pump out AB positive into a paper towel.

I still had the better part of three pounds of potatoes to slice and couldn't really use my right hand completely so I had to trust the food grabber of the mandoline. It worked perfectly. PERFECTLY.

I have the unfortunate habit of experiencing events before they happen - envisioning how tools should work on product, seeing the landing gear tuck up into the plane after becoming airborne, dissecting why cilantro and mango are Just Wrong, and deciding that mandoline food holders will waste food.

Sunday night I ate a mango salsa with scallops and it was good. My mandoline wound is on the mend. Although I will continue to picture landing gear sliding into its little place on every plane I travel in, I will also try to remember that other people MAY know what they are talking about.


  1. Always Cut Away. #1 Rule of Knife Safety. You only have, like, 12 fingers, max!

  2. Personally, I solved this problem by giving my mandoline to a person I didn't like very much and buying myself a set of really nice knives. I keep keen edges on them, and haven't missed that mandoline for a second.

    I do, however, enjoy listening to mandolin music while cooking. Ricky Scaggs is the best. (Try the album with Bruce Hornsby)


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