Thursday, June 08, 2006

Underneath the Strobe Light

For one of those December holidays, Siobhan gave me a giant orange chef knife of the brand shilled by Rachael Ray. Siobhan knows I despise Rachael Ray but my kitchen is a non-toxic mottle of yellow and orange. The knife's handle is orange but even better: the blade is really sharp. I have a pineapple and I'm armed. Since I shot my mouth off, I'm betting life-threatening injury that I can combine pineapple, knife, cutting board and a simple carving technique I saw on television, and end up with fresh fruit.

Some methods sound a little dangerous. Gee, I hope that pineapple's a cube. I saw Alton Brown make short work of a whole pineapple with an electric carving knife. Last time I saw one of those in action my grandfather carved up an ice cream cake. Poor Fudgie! There was crumbled cookie everywhere! So while I have no intention of training for my killing spree with fruit and a six-foot cord, there's still plenty for me to learn from how Alton did it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a decent online demonstration or even a crappy online demonstration of the technique. FoodNetwork seems stuck on the idea that pineapple comes in cans. Roll up your sleeves and put on your 3D glasses. We're going in!

If you're old like me, you remember the scene in Diva in which the hero, while buttering a baguette, explains to the sweet, misguided kid that life is art. That is possibly the most economical bit of zen sensuality on film. It also helps that the apartment is a warehouse and there's a girl roller skating around the living room. If you're paying attention, you're panting. I've always wanted an apartment I could skate in. As I approach the pineapple, I am aware that a firm grasp of the knife, a clean, steady surface and focus on the task at hand are essentials. For instance, this would be a bad time for the cat to adore me but he is asleep. I checked.

I am lefthanded. Your mileage may vary. I lay the pineapple on its side with the top facing right. Firmly holding the pineapple in place, I briskly slice off the bottom, then grasp the spiny top and slice it off, too. It is delightful to work with a really sharp blade. I discard the top and bottom. I stand up the now-barrel-shaped fruit. Slicing down the side and turning the barrel toward me, I remove the prickly outsides off in two- to three-inch strips all the way around, turning it around again to remove any thorny patches I may have missed. The flesh falls away easily and offers little or no resistance.

I'm not done yet. The core of the pineapple is fibrous and very exciting to eat if deliciousness doesn't count. I cut the pineapple in half straight down, and cut the halves in half, straight down again. Then I cut off the center point. I now have fresh fruit that smells fantastic, and is nothing like the stuff that comes out of cans - nothing against the stuff in cans but this is different, and better. Life is art.


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