“This is a knife”, and I learned how to use it while on walkabout in San Francisco.
In 1986, America was introduced to the idea of walkabout by the movie Crocodile Dundee. Thirty years ago, all you needed was a hunky man, a beautiful woman, a big city, and a big knife.
Dundee is threatened by a mugger with a switchblade:
Sue Charlton: Mick, give him your wallet.
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: What for?
Sue Charlton: He's got a knife.
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: [chuckling] That's not a knife.
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: [Dundee draws a large Bowie knife]
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: *That's* a knife.
[Dundee slashes the teen mugger's jacket. He and his friends run away]
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: Just kids having fun. You alright?
Sue Charlton: I’m always all right when I'm with you Dundee. "
The world has changed a lot since then. Can you imagine a foreigner taking that knife anywhere without being hog tied and detained for suspicion of being a terrorist? Ok, I don’t need or even want a knife to scare off the bad guys. What I need is the skill to chop a veggie without getting hurt. Nice clean cuts of even-sized tasty food pieces.
When we travel, we like to experience the environment, art, and food. Food is one of the reasons I walkabout, and San Francisco is all about food. San Francisco is a city that LOVES it’s food. Bagdad by the Bay, is the perfect place for an urban hike: walk, eat, drink, walk, eat, walk, drink, walk, sober up on BART, and then head for home.
Last weekend, I traveled to San Francisco to hike, eat, and take a knife skills class at the San Francisco Cooking School in the heart of the Civic Center. My daughter gave me a gift certificate to the San Francisco Cooking School because she knows that “travel far and wide, cook and eat good food” are on my list of life goals.
We start with a ride on BART and a stroll through the Sunday Farmer’s market at the UN Plaza. Then a hike to Hayes Valley for lunch.
While enjoying my vegetarian Greek salad at Soulva in Hayes Valley, I couldn’t resist peeking into the kitchen. I eagerly anticipated my culinary skills building class as the kitchen staff buzzed around under the words “make it nice & be nice.” Words to live by, “Opa!”
Part of the adventure of food is also cooking. There is an international challenge in finding recognizable food elements and preparing it in a new location with limited and often unusual utensils in a kitchen that isn’t our own. In the travel world it is known as self- catering. Learn how to cook with local food while traveling, meet people, eat food, and save money. “The less we spend the more we travel” is one of our motto’s.
A knife skills class where I can learn proper knife handing and food cleaning processes in THE San Francisco, is a walkabout travel and food experience. Learning cooking skills is preparing for the next big trip where we can cook, eat, and have an amazing food and culinary experience.
The lesson is basic and challenging: learn how to use a chef knife; be safe and efficiently make properly sized pieces of food for a tasty experience.
Our instructor Dario, and the teaching kitchen were right out of Food Network. I was so excited I washed my hands three times! We suit up with an apron and hand towel to face a beautiful bunch of onions, celery, carrots, leeks, potatoes and half a cabbage. Innocent veggies, ready for slaughter.
We are taught proper cutting grip and stance. Keep your cutting space clear and organized. We learn the chop cut and the rock n' roll cut to first clean, and stabilize. Next we make planks, batons and the final cubes. Trim goes in the bin. Which knife is for you? Sharpening, mincing, cross-cutting, supreme, chiffonade and roll chop. What is dicing, slicing and julienning any way? Then we take it all out on those poor veggies.
I’m not as fast as Dario, but cooking is a journey, not a destination.
In the end, there is just this big bag of smelly goodness ready for the stovetop. I stuff my diced veggies in my bag and I’m afoot again, into the City for more urban hiking. I can’t afford to eat at San Francisco’s 100 Best Eats of 2017, but I can cook a yummy bowl of minestrone soup.
Now I’m ready for walkabout. If a veggie pulls a knife on me… well, it is not going to be pretty. It’s going to be soup! Dinner is served.
www.cynthiawhelan.com Whelan on Walkabout "That's Not a Knife..."
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