My grandmother could slice up a banana over a bowl of cereal like a fucking ninja!
As kids, my two older brothers and I would be sitting at her large dining room table. The same table that now sits in my dining room. We’d pour the Rice Krispies from the box. We’d pour the milk from an old ceramic pitcher.
SNAP, CRACKLE, POP, CRACKLE, SNAP, POP, SNAP, POP, CRACKLE, POP…
Then my grandmother would walk in dressed in a 1960’s house-dress, uncomfortable shoes, panty-hose rolled down to just under her knees, a helmet full of bobbie-pins, a razor-sharp knife in one hand and a bunch of bananas in the other.
She’d walk up and stand next to you, pull out a banana… you didn’t have a fucking choice… you didn’t want a banana on your cereal? TOUGH SHIT… you were getting a banana on your cereal.
Then all you saw were flashes of silver blade and flying disks of perfectly sliced bananas and within a few bananoseconds you had a bowl full of Rice Krispies covered in bananas.
This story doesn’t really have anything to do with bananas.
But it does have to do with peeling potatoes.
The other night I walked into the kitchen and my wife was peeling potatoes to make mashed potatoes for dinner. I watched carefully as she held the potato, her thumb on the top side, then she’d… GASP… DRAW THE BLADE TOWARDS HER BODY!!
Granted she was using a vegetable peeler with a large rubber safety grip handle and covered by a few dozen OSHA regulations… but you can never be too cautious.
I quickly programmed 911 into my speed dial and waited for that catastrophic moment when she might slip and slice open her entire forearm or possibly slice off her hand or accidentally slip and jam the potato peeler into her heart.
I questioned her methodology of drawing the blade toward her body rather than away from herself as I had learned from all my hunter-gatherer friends that had trained me in my limited outdoor skills and blade-wielding techniques. While I pontificated, she continued peeling the potatoes. Rather eloquently I might add, with each piece of peel landing in a nice little organized pile in the sink.
I asked my daughter, who was standing nearby, how she peeled potatoes. “Do you pull the blade toward you or push it away from you?”
“I usually pull it towards me” she said, “but I do it both ways, I guess.”
I’ve peeled more potatoes in my life than a boot-camp marine. But I peel potatoes like an elementary school age Cub Scout on the first day of summer camp, who has just earned his right to carry a pocket knife. Give that kid a knife and within an hour or two of slicing and dicing and little shards of flying wood, he will have carved a few dozen sticks into pencil shapes and a few logs into spears.
With any luck you’ll have only gone through a few band aids and no trips to the emergency room.
That’s how I peel a potato… like a Cub Scout on the first day of summer camp!
Pick up the potato, hold it out in front of you, and start swiping the peeler AWAY FROM YOU. Hunks of peel fly off the potato in all directions, similar to when you are cutting your fingernails in a hotel room.
Gross… I don’t really do that.
But that’s how I peel a potato. I’d never think of drawing the blade TOWARD ME.
That must be how the pros do it. Or how women do it. Or how professional chefs do it. Or how Ninjas do it.
Come to think it of it, that’s how my grandmother used to slice the bananas.
Like a fucking ninja!
Maybe this post really was about bananas.