Recently we had a guest in our home who assisted in the preparation of an hors d’oeuvre plate for a small soiree. The assortment of offerings was quite delectable to say the least. But I became somewhat concerned when our guest, newly sharpened Wüsthof paring knife in hand, asked, “How do I cut cheese?” My concern increased to astonishment after I deftly relieved her of possession of the knife and replaced it with a cheese- slicer, which she fixedly studied with that “what’s this thing” sort of intensity.
The conclusions elicited from her question led me to the following observations.
- She came from extreme wealth and therefore had, truly, never actually cut cheese in her life because the kitchen help or chefs were responsible for such menial tasks.
- This was a ploy to get someone else to cut the cheese for her.
- Her planet did not have cheese or knives, let alone cheese slicers.
- She had just been released from the asylum where “residents” were not allowed to play with knives, nor would they ever come in contact with a cheese slicer.
The impressive thing was the unpretentious, pleasing, and direct manner in which she asked. She seemed neither embarrassed nor unashamed. (Though I did notice her face develop a peculiar reddish tint as the question left her lips.) Whether from naïveté or ignorance, her query was most appropriate. That alone is an inspiring, notable, and extraordinary feat in our self-dependent, independent, and improper society.
Why can’t more of us be like our unassuming, knife-relieved house guest? You don’t know something, or don’t know how to do something— ask. Is it truly that difficult? Do we assume that everyone on the planet comes out of the womb with the knowledge of how to cut cheese, how to insert a shoe-string through a hole, how to add or subtract? Let alone the exploratory skills to map the sequencing of DNA double helix?
Some of the more challenging questions I’ve had to ask—
- How do I tie a Windsor knot?
- How do determine which god is God?
- What is the cleanest way to change the oil in my car? (there isn’t one, by the way)
- How do I determine the criteria for choosing the one I would marry?
- How do I cook steak properly? (medium-rare, of course)
- What am I supposed to be doing in this phase of my life?
- Why do different cheeses need different methods for cutting?
So, really, how do I cut cheese, or choose a spouse, or grill a perfect steak, or find God? The important thing is that asking questions is the simplest way to learn. Investigating and questioning then leads to richer understanding and deeper knowledge of cheese and everything else.
Have a cheesy week,