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Cutting Edge

A couple of weeks ago; I was listening to Radio 4's Food Programme, a regular audio accompaniment to our Sunday lunch; they were contrasting the use of knives in the Western kitchen as opposed to the Chinese kitchen. 

In the average Chinese kitchen; there are very few knives with the most important of these being the Cleaver. To Western eyes the cleaver is probably a crude and brutish knife used mainly for cutting through bones and other tasks which require a hefty blade but in the hands of the skilled Chinese cook; it is pretty much the only knife needed. It can indeed be used in the way that a Western cook would use it but it can also be used for more refined tasks; indeed every part of the knife is used, from chopping, to sculpting to crushing. It is the only knife a Chinese cook really needs.

Compare that the Western kitchen, a knife for every purpose; you will find a Cleaver but you will find vegetable knives, carving knives, bread knives, cheese knives, filleting knives; a whole array of knives. To the Chinese cook's eyes this probably seems extremely profligate but Western cuisine has evolved in a very different way to that of Chinese due to different environmental requirements.

Neither way is right and neither way is wrong; arguably, you require more skill to wield a Cleaver to cover all the jobs in the Chinese kitchen but there is a counter-argument that you need greater knowledge to make the right choice in a Western kitchen. At the end of the day, the aims are the same and at least the interface is common. 

A pity we can't say the same for the storage industry really.


  1. Martin
    I use a cleaver for most of my cooking; probably the only exceptions are cutting bread (serrated blade required) and fish filletting (bendy knife required – technical term). I think as far as storage goes, having less devices makes sense, but perhaps the issue could be looked at slightly differently. Imagine rather than having a single array/device we have a definition of what we want from a single device, but buy them from multiple suppliers. As long as they have the same function, then there’s no problem. It would be no different than buying cleavers from two different (good quality) knife manufacturers.
    Of course, cleavers and bread knives probably have a similar cost; the same isn’t always true for storage arrays. Perhaps we have a proliferation of products partly because pricing means the most obvious cost (i.e. capital acquisition) is much lower on some arrays than others, irrespective of the implicit additional training and other issues.

  2. Jazz says:

    One Cleaver to rule them all,
    One Cleaver to find them,
    One Cleaver to bring them all
    and in the darkness bind them.

  3. Martin G says:

    you make good points and I now have a vision of you running round the kitchen with Cleaver in hand! One of the things that the industry needs to focus on is not just the proliferation of devices but the proliferation of interfaces and also terminologies. I know of at least five different terms for the presentation of LUN to an server; surely we could come up with a common term/phrase. This might seem trivial but it is a big barrier to clear communication and learning.

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