When my trusty Opinel knife finally bit the dust recently, I grieved. Not like one would mourn the passing of a close friend or relative, but a great aunt perhaps. That little knife, bought years ago from a back street Florentine ironmonger and smuggled through customs had become a good friend, one of my best. Its plain wooden handle the exact length of my fist, had become smoothed with use, the blade stained with rust and sharpened over time so that it was half its original width.
I’m generally an immaterial sort of fellow. Not for me sharp suits, fancy cars, over-compensatory large televisions. Stuff doesn’t really flick my switch. But when it comes to my batterie de cuisine, well, I get a bit funny about it.
I spend a lot of time cooking, and the gear in my kitchen cupboards and drawers whilst being fundamentally basic, has history. And if you touch it, I’ll get you.
On more than one occasion I have spent embarrassing sums of cash on knives, pots and so on, used them once or twice and handed them over to the loft, simply because they don’t feel right.
My diminutive culinary arsenal that gets used over and over: the charred and now worn round-cornered wooden spatula; an inherited Le Creuset casserole, knobless but with a greasy patina that only comes from the cooking of hundreds of curries and stews; a heavy beech chopping board that is concave, stained and scarred; an odd rubber-handled knife I bought in Woolies for a fiver fifteen years ago, in my first week at university; my nod to modernity: a couple of Microplane graters, and a mini Magimix. These are a few of my favourite things. And if you cook a lot too, you’ll understand and you will empathise with the loss of my trusty knife.
In other news: exciting times for South Shropshire scoffing. The southernmost boozer in the county, the Salwey in Wooferton, reopened two weeks ago. Down the road in Orleton the old Maidenhead is set for a thorough revamp with a bakery attached. In Ludlow, the brilliant Martyn Emsen (formerly of the Jolly Frog, Leintwardine) is opening up a ciccheti bar on Broad Street – that’s tapas to you and me, but more Italiany – it’s bound to be brilliant. There’s a ‘posh’ pizza parlour opening up in Quality Square, and rumour has it that a Bosi brother (remember Hibiscus, the Bell Inn in Yarpole?) is taking on the Charlton Arms. Wow!