There's a lot to be said for teaching children to handle a knife
Would you give a three-year old child a knife to play with? Well, maybe not to play with, but to work with? Definitely. Nathanael Johnson at Grist rounds up the arguments in favour of teaching children knife skills, as part of cookery skills, which, of course, are survival skills. Johnson thinks that the lack of overt hostility to an article by Sarah Elton advocating just that "signifies a tipping point in American culture" (conveniently annexing Canada for the sake of his argument).
We still may be unreasonably risk-averse, but the fact that Elton wasn’t trolled by protective parents is a promising data point. It suggests that we’re coming around to the realization that the risk of julienning a pinky is far outweighed by the risks that come from failing to teach kids about food.
I think he has a point. And so do knives. So if you're going to get your child her own knife for a forthcoming birthday, what kind of knife? There's scads of information around; here's a recent article rounding up some of the options.
The knife to look for is one with a blade made from a simultaneously heated and compressed (aka precision-forged) bar of high-carbon stainless steel. A full-length tang—the extension of the blade—that runs to the end of the handle will help extend the life of the knife. A plain, as opposed to serrated, edge will make it easy to sharpen, and a deep blade will protect your knuckles while you chop.
All of which had me wondering whether Peter Hertzmann, a guest on Eat This Podcast last summer, teaches knife skills to children.