With all the horror of the Boston bombings, and of the way whoever did it turned a useful cooking pot (the pressure cooker) into a murderous weapon, I thought I’d mention something altogether opposite, and that is the remarkable knives made on the Taiwanese islands of Kinmen.
The Kinmen (also known as Jinmen and Quemoy) islands lie barely a couple of kilometres off the coast of Fujian Province, but have been under Taiwanese administration since the end of the Chinese civil war. In the 1950s, during the First and Second Taiwan Strait Crises, they were bombarded by Mainland forces, and the islands were littered with hundreds of thousands of artillery shells. Local artisans gathered up the shells, and transformed them into knives, which have become a famous local product.
This is one of the Kinmen knives I bought in Taipei last May. It’s a lovely knife, pleasingly weighted, and the shopkeeper who sold it to me said that the military-grade steel makes it particularly durable. Bombs into kitchen knives; destruction into creativity, nourishment, life and pleasure.