Itty, bitty, little pieces. That’s how small we are cutting some of the vegetables. 2mm cubes called brunoise. It’s all about aesthetics and the food experience. Who would want big chunks of vegetables in a chicken soup? Well, I would usually but when you are getting marks on how accurate and square your knife cuts are your mind quickly changes.
I thought I was a detail person. And in some ways I am. Honestly though, I find it frustrating to make cuts of veggies perfect. There is something I like about an imperfectly cut veggie. Not every vegetable is shaped the same way so why should they be in prepared food? It will almost always taste the same. But I’ve been diligent, going home and practicing. We have to bring a cup of cut veggies to class on Monday for homework. How many people can say they’ve had that kind of homework?!
The part I do like about trying to cut perfectly square cubes and sticks is that in the end it is muscle memory and rhythm that will help you. We are not supposed to look carefully at each individual piece we cut. Once we have the rolling motion of the knife and control in our guide hand the millimetres become natural. You won’t even have to look at what you are cutting.
The knife is always close to you. Your guide hand’s fingers are tucked under and with every cut the blade of the knife is guided by your middle finger. They never lose contact. Despite not seeing the point in perfection, I am satisfied looking at rutabaga, carrots and celery all cut up in the same sized cubes and knowing my hands accomplished it. Like Chef Tony said, only a craftsperson can use their hands to create this. If you can’t use your hands and in turn use your knife then you will never become a chef.
In the end I had a great week. I feel motivated to cook and to share my experience about growing food. No one else in the class knows much about it, from what I can tell. Although I might be behind in julienne, brunoise and small dice cuts I am ahead in my knowledge of where food comes from. That’s the best way to learn to respect your food: from the ground up.