If you search the phrase “mandoline slicer” on Twitter, you will see a fair amount of ads, a few tweets praising it as a “game changer” and many of tales of woe and dismemberment. Mandolines are not a kitchen toy, you see, they are a kitchen weapon.
Yes, they can quickly slice almost anything into beautiful, paper-thin, uniform slices. But unless you have been using one for years—and use a guard or a cut-resistant glove—now is simply not the time to use one. You will be charmed, soothed, and satisfied by its efficient, elegant nature, and, just when you feel like you “got the hang of it,” you’ll either remove the guard or let your guard down, and disaster will strike. It’s not a matter of if you will cut yourself, it is a matter of when. The Sharp One always wins in the end, and preventable kitchen mishaps are not what this country’s hospitals need at this exact moment.
Why this sudden outburst, Claire? I have two reasons, one public and one personal. A few days ago, food Twitter erupted over the tweet below, with many food writers and chefs chastising anyone who would even dare to look at such a sharp, treacherous tool right now.
Someone just sent me a link to a new Bon Appetit video that, incredibly, encourages home chefs to use a mandoline to bulk slice shallots and garlic. No guard. At speed. During pandemic quarantine. Because "the best chili crisp is the chili crisp you make at home." I need a drink.
— Tom Kretchmar (@tkretchmar) April 26, 2020
I could not find this new video—I think it was taken down—but I did find a two year-old video in which Andy makes chilli crisp as part of another dish and, while he uses a (guard-less) mandoline, he says you can use a knife if you want. It’s still a very casual attitude to take with The Sharp One, but he’s not forcing the mandoline on you.
Personally, I was scared straight last Saturday evening when my partner asked how I “got the onions so thin” for the waffled Spam rice bowls I had prepared. (They were shallots.) “I used a mandoline,” I said. “Oh,” he replied, breezily. “Maybe I’ll get one of those for my place.” “Absolutely not!,” I yelled, before launching into a lecture about how he would lose a finger, faint and burden his loved ones and many healthcare workers with an unnecessary injury. He persisted for a bit, until I “compromised” by saying he could only purchase and use one if he wore a cut-resistant glove. (This made him lose interest, as I knew it would.) I then made a vow to forgo using The Sharp One myself until this “whole thing” is over—because honestly, who am I kidding? I have only injured myself very slightly with my mandoline, but it has tasted blood. I feel it’s been biding its time ever since, waiting for the most chaotic moment to strike (which would be now).
I would tell you to “use the guard” or “get a glove,” but here is the thing: You won’t. Sure, you might start off using a guard or glove, but you will get cocky, lazy, or complacent and then you will bleed. A lot. This would be bad under normal circumstances, but as you well know, things are not normal right now, particularly at hospitals. Use a knife, is what I’m saying, and get to know the mandoline at a later date.