What kind of knives do you use for your cooking? Some people swear by Japanese ones and some love Sabatier.
I’m cutting and chopping all the time, and having a range of really sharp and handy knives is very important. A knife that can’t cut fast and accurately is a big annoyance, and makes accidents more likely.
For years I’ve been bringing home cooking knives from Mallorca. Obviously not in my hand luggage. I sometimes wonder what the security people think when they X ray my suitcase.
In Spain knives are still made by hand in the small towns. There is a famous small family knife maker called Pallares, operating in Solsona in Cataluña. I have some of their knives which are excellent. But my house is in Mallorca, and the ones I buy are made in a small nearby town called Consell. Usually I get them from one of the local ferreterias, hardware shops, but when I went this February I decided to go and see the man who makes them. This is his workshop.
The thing about these knives is that they are made of carbon steel. You can get an edge on them that isn’t achievable with stainless steel. True, you have to keep sharpening them, but it’s worth that small trouble.
My old ones are marked with the maker’s name, P Campins. I don’t know what the P stands for. These days they have a smart stamp on them – Hnos Campins – Campins Brothers.
Anyway, there was only one brother there making knives, and whether it was P or not I can’t say. We were not able to communicate too well. I tried to tell him how highly I esteemed his knives, but he just laughed and looked puzzled. My Spanish is usually adequate but I don’t speak Mallorquin. He understood what I wanted though and I got the knives for which I had been asked by my neighbour in England.
I watched Sr Campins making knives in his small workshop, with a little forge and a couple of grinding wheels. He makes all sorts of knives – for cooking, hunting, pruning, working with palm leaves and canes for baskets, from tools like machetes for farm work to delicate folding penknives.
He is a master of the useful.