When it comes to paring knives I don’t like to spend a lot of money. This might be because in restaurant kitchens these little tools go missing, are “borrowed,” or fall into the trash with frustrating regularity. My favorite used to be the cheap little Victorinox knife with the flat plastic handle. At about $6 a pop, Heather and I used to buy them regularly and keep them hidden.
Now that I only cook at home, and don’t have to worry about anyone borrowing my knife only to find it later in the dish pit, being used to scrape burned bacon off of a sheet pan, I’ve switched to a different (but only slightly more expensive) model from L’Econome. Made in Thiers, the cutlery capital of France, these inexpensive little guys are lightweight and sharp.
They are also adorable.
I generally wouldn’t advise making knife purchases based on cuteness, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t do just that when I bought my first one, an impulse buy at the checkout of Crate and Barrel. I liked it so much I bought a few more in Paris, when I discovered that my “well-equipped” furnished apartment had 20 Ikea butter knives but not any cutlery that would actually, you know, cut food.
All knives should be thought of as an extension of your hand, but I think this is especially true of paring knives, since most of the cutting and peeling they are used for happens in your hands, not on a board. It should fit snugly in your grip and the blade should not be too long. I like a flat or rectangular handle; a round one can slip around in my sweaty little hand, the last thing I want to happen when peeling a mango. I like to have both a serrated and straight edge handy to use, depending on the task at hand.
L’Econome makes a few other models with these brightly colored handles, including cheese knives and spreaders.
I prefer the blue and green, and my birthday is October 10th.