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Restaurants & Bars 20

Del Re Knife Truck

ymaluv | Jun 9, 200806:45 AM

Although I periodically sharpen my knives at home with a wet stone, I always wanted to get them professionally sharpened by one of the knife trucks that seems to mysteriously appear and then disappear (I've never been able to pin-point a predictable schedule). For years I've longingly smiled at the clanging trucks as it weaved in and out of our streets hoping one day all the variables would come together so that one day I could have my Henckels knives returned to their straight from Williams-Sonoma shininess.

And yesterday, that day finally arrived . . . While I was dusting my floors, I heard the gentle clang of the knife truck coming down my street and when I popped my head outside the window I saw the driver park the red truck a houses away (I haven’t seen the other one with the Warner Bros. cartoon characters in years). I ran outside and asked Mr. Del Re (the name is painted on the truck) what he charged and he replied, "I have to see the knives," in a low terse Italian tenor. I had to give myself a minute to decided whether or not the man was rude, or was just having a bad day (it was steamy yesterday and I’m sure his truck was a mini-sauna), or just not chatty fellow. Deciding that it was a combination of the latter two, I ran back home and grabbed the wooden knife stand that housed my three Henkel knife set (chef, boning, carving; all about 8 inches). After waiting a few minutes while he tended to a lawn mower, Mr. Del Re glanced at my knives and replied it would cost me $35. And while I didn’t know what other’s charge to sharpen knives, I got the feeling that $35 was steep although I do realize you pay a premium for instant, at-your-door service, not to mention the “quaint” factor. But $35 for 3 (8-10 inch) knives?

And now that I know other businesses charge as little as $3 a knife and as up to $1 per inch (most places also require you to leave your knives), at this point, I really should have taken my knives back home to sharpen them myself (just as my dad taught me), but because I had of all this accumulated yen to have my knives sharpened by an old fashioned grinder, I left my knives in his care while I walked to my local bank to get some cash.

Two minutes later when I returned, he was finished.

And one minute later I was back home to inspect the grinder’s work . . .

I have never had my knives professionally sharpened and I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like, but I’m sure the angle of blade should be uniform, which it was not as the end by the handle of my chef’s knife seemed to have gotten in Mr. Del Re’s way and was shaved off a wee bit too much. But aesthetics aside, I then took out a head of cabbage (I would have preferred a tomato) expecting it to feel like I was cutting into softened butter . . .

But, as in most cases when I over romanticize something, my expectations weren’t met and the romance is now over. While my knives were sharper, they weren’t much sharper.

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