Casey Grisez

November 22, 2022

Sticky Notes Lesson #16 - Mingei

I signed up for a month-long, email-based writing course from Cole Schafer of Sticky Notes, Honey Copy, and Chasing Hemingway fame.

He sends a lesson and prompt every day. I have 10 minutes to read and consider the prompt, 40 minutes to write, and 10 minutes to edit before posting publicly.

I’m posting here to not drown my Casey's Notes content. On to day 16...


Imagine you're on vacation, staying at an AirBNB. Maybe you're in a cabin in the mountains with your kids and another couple who brought their kids. You've been eating on and off all day, maybe with a drink or two thrown in.

The kids are all napping, you just got back from a hike in the snow, and it's time to start putting together your famous stuffed peppers for dinner. They're fantastic -- the perfect blend of carbs, sausage, and cheese, with beans and some vegetables thrown in so you can claim you ate healthy once that day.

Step 1 is to halve the peppers, so you pull the peppers from the fridge, throw the mysteriously stained cutting board on the counter, and rifle through the drawers looking for something resembling a useful knife. After attempting three different kitchen knives, all duller than the mismatched butter knives, you realize it may have been easier to pull the peppers in half.

Today's prompt is to describe my favorite object through the lens of mingei, a philosophy that champions the craft of making ordinary objects of the highest quality possible while maintaining affordability. And that object can't have or have ever had a heartbeat.

My favorite daily object is my 8" Global chef's knife. And it's not even a competition.

Made from Japanese stainless steel, it's ice tempered (whatever that means), hardened, and has perfect balance. From breaking down a big butternut squash to carving up an avocado for my kids, this knife handles it all. I have to wash it three times a day.

When I left for college, decent kitchen knives were not high on my list. Nobody should've trusted me with sharp objects anyway. The university meal plan, fast food, and frozen meals sustained me for years.

At some point after college, I found I actually liked to cook. I didn't make nice meals as often as I liked (and still don't), but there's something rewarding about taking a grocery bag of raw ingredients and chopping, slicing, dicing, boiling, searing, sautéing, baking, grilling, and finishing your way to a killer meal.

Pun very much intended, the cheap knives I had just weren't cutting it anymore, so I decided to put a good-but-not-amazing chef's knife on my wedding registry.

Some beautiful souls scrolled past the towels and dishes and bought the hunk of gleaming steel for my wedding. Until using it, I didn't realize how much time and frustration I wasted on cheap knives. Trying to cut vegetables or prepare meat or mince herbs was an exercise in frustration. I'd end up mashing things more than cutting... except for the times I cut myself because the cheap knife slipped on vegetable skin.

I now use my Global G-2 multiple times a day, cutting omelets to split between the boys, trimming fat off chicken to throw on the grill, prepping vegetables, dicing avocado, and slicing perfectly done steaks at that cool angle so you can see the medium-rare perfection.

Mingei or not, the knife is a pleasure to hold and a joy to use and it makes every day just that little bit better.