For the Accident-Prone Cook
Knife Skills Illustrated, by Peter Hertzmann, hardcover, 384 pages, list price: $29.95
Something you would never buy for yourself, but can't stop using once you have it: I'm not sure there's a better definition of a gift. That's the way I feel about Knife Skills Illustrated, the book that proves that knowledge for its own sake is an affordable luxury. This is not a cookbook, it's a prep book — recipes for disassembling vegetable, fruit and protein safely and professionally. What's more, each chapter comes in right- and left-handed versions, right down to the meticulous pencil drawings (and if you look hard at the illustrations of the wrong hand dicing and slicing away, you experience an eerie frisson of danger and discomfort). Everything you can do to a piece of food (A) before it hits the pan, or (B) after it's sitting on the carving board, is in this book. Getting from A to B is up to you.
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