A short sturdy knife intended for cutting fruit and vegetables. The blade is flat, straight, usually between two and four inches in length, may be serrated, and should be quite rigid. As the cutting happens so close to the fingers, and quite often takes place when the cut object is held in the other hand, rather than rested on a cutting board, the grip on the handle should be especially good. As with the peeling knife, you sometimes find these with handles which are wrapped in string, or some other rough material, which makes it easier to hold onto if your hands are wet.

The primary use is the peeling and paring (or slicing) of fruits and vegetables. They are good for de-eyeing potatoes and pitting fruits such as apricots and plums. Decorative cutting of salad vegetables such as radish flowers, or fruits, such as in shaped citrus peels, may also be performed with this kitchen implement to advantage, because the short stiff blade makes detailed intricate work easier.

For knives, they also make excellent emergency screwdrivers for small screws, because of the rigidity of the blade, and I'll confess this is the only use I've made of one in the last several years.

Now please note the word emergency in the foregoing paragraph. This is only acceptable in life-threatening situations or circumstances where you are in dire need of a screwdriver, as, for example, when you need to open up a computer, or perhaps remove a blanking plate in order to add some juicy new bit of hardware that simply cannot wait. Casual or habitual substitution of a paring knife for a screwdriver constitutes knife-abuse, is a grievous crime, and should be avoided at all costs. If you find you are given over to habitual knife abuse, please buy a screwdriver and use that. If you find yourself unable to follow this advice, please consult a specialist who can give you professional help.

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