At my table this evening, sat my Ambassadorial friend and her teenage son (almost not a teenager anymore, so all the more impressive that he had been happy to come along). Over dinner we got to discussing the writing prompt for today, the final day of a month of writing challenges. I was to write about a treasured possession.
I confessed to feeling a little uninspired. I had plenty to write about. I could have written a very lengthy piece about all the things that had been treasured possessions in my life and how pretty much every single one of them have either perished, faded, been destroyed, been lost, lost their significance, or gained a whole, new, painful significance. It was all a bit depressing. So I ditched that idea.
Over dessert, we briefly explored whether I could sustain a whole post on how the bar of soap that I use each day could arguably be my most treasured possession? I’d be lost without it. But then I just started worrying (thankfully inside my head, not out loud) that there may be a day in the not too distant future where they stop making bars of soap and force us all to use shower gel! I don’t want to explore that thought until I have to.
Then I thought about what is precious to me now. It could be Marcella’s cookbook? My first piece of ‘proper furniture’ that arrived last week? The string of pearls my parents gave me for my 40th? All lovely. All treasured.
But then, as I was preparing the meal for tonight, it occurred to me – that at this moment – and many moments before – and no doubt many moments after – my most treasured and most used possessions are my two kitchen knives.
I bought them just before I came to this other side of the world, 16 years ago. I had been given a voucher for a department store and I wanted to buy something that I could take with me (in my two suitcases) and that I couldn’t otherwise afford.
I had been introduced to sharp, good-quality knives while working in a cafe in Sydney’s Inner West and, having become accustomed to the joy (and paradoxical safety) of cooking with a sharp knife, I couldn’t go back.
When I think about it, those knives have been an integral part of my journey of learning how to cook simple food, Persian food, Italian food, food for crowds, food for one. I haven’t yet learnt how to sharpen them on a knife stone. But when others have kindly done it for me – well, it’s better than a bouquet of roses! Give me a bunch of well-sharpened knives any day (though flowers would be lovely too).
Tonight, I was required to thinly slice discs of carrot, strips of red pepper, and crescents of onion and celery. My knives were doing what they do best!
I’m aware that there is something a bit sharp and evoking of shivers about all this talk of knives. But when no humans or animals (live animals, that is) are harmed in the process, or no magician’s acts are to be endured, knives are part of a creative process of warmth and love.
Tonight, they played a part in the creating of a home-style Italian dish – real comfort food – for three people far from our ‘home’ and wearied by some of life’s different challenges.
After that dish was consumed, with beautiful potatoes from a nearby county, the bigger of the two knives was cleaned and used to cut through an Almond Cake.
I love my knives. They will eventually be sharpened into non-existence, but I think I’ll have a few more years of treasuring them. And as I cut, chop, slice and dice in silence – if you were to listen carefully – listen to my thoughts – you’d occasionally hear me asking for the blessing of the one who treasures me as his very own.
He’s no possession. I am possessed by him.
Tonight: #32 ‘Chicken Fricassee, Cacciatora Style’ and #33 ‘Almond Cake’ with Ruth and Jesse at my table.