Years ago, my father gave us a fancy french mandoline for Christmas. It's a vicious kitchen implement for cutting vegetables into perfect slices or flawless julienne. It has razor sharp blades and comes with a guard to keep your fingers away from the cutters.
One day, soon thereafter, we decided to make a Patricia Wells leg of lamb recipe - a delicious concoction which involves suspending the leg over a gratin of sliced potato, onion, and tomato. While the lamb cooks, its lovely juices drip down and flavor the vegetables, a perfect one pot meal (providing you can figure out how to hang seven pounds of meat over your gratin dish). I was still at work when I got the phone call from my husband - I'm in the emergency room. I went straight to Lenox Hill and found my husband still waiting; while making the gratin, he'd sliced the tip of his finger off with the mandoline, because he thought he didn't need to use the guard. Yup. I waited with him for a while, but eventually I gave up and went home, leaving him there (because I have accompanied him to the ER with cut fingers one* too many times** and no longer feel the necessity to stay through to the bitter end). I finished up the lamb, ate my portion, and went to bed.
When he finally got home after six hours in the ER, six hours waiting for them to cauterize the little artery he'd nicked, six hours with not even a stitch to show for it, I got out of bed and made him a plate of food (only because he had only one working hand, not because I'm a servile wife). I then proceeded to pass out, flat on the floor, eyes rolled up into my head, dreaming in psychedelic technicolor.
He called an ambulance.
I came to before the EMTs turned up, but they still took me off to the ER in the bus. This time, we went to Mt. Sinai; W. had no interest in returning to Lenox Hill for the second time in an evening. One thing led to another; a CT scan, an MRI, an EEG and twelve hours later, they sent me home. Syncope. I'd fainted.
Ever since then, and we're talking a decade at least, that mandoline has sat in our kitchen, in its original box, unused. I've been scared of it. W. won't go near it.
But when it came time to make that cole slaw the other day, that turnip cole slaw, I dug out the mandoline. And you know? It really does does do a great job of slicing and julienning those vegetables.
And no blood was shed, because I used the finger guard.
*like the time I came home to a note that said "I'm at Lenox Hill. Don't go in the kitchen." In the kitchen was a bloody knife and a bloody loaf of bread.
**or the time he was working with the table saw in my mother's basement and came up clutching his hand asking to be driven to the ER. My mother and I dropped him off, and went out for bagels. A nun held his other hand while they stitched him up. I guess I'm heartless.