How to use a Kaasschaaf Posted by sarah on Feb 11, 2010 in Dutch Language
We all know that the Dutch provide us with plenty of cheese for our enjoyment. All kinds of cheese, from all over the country, absolutely delicious. But how does one go about slicing these cheeses, especially when they are purchased as a triangular block? This is why the Dutch have a kaasschaaf, a special kitchen utensil designed specifically for slicing cheese. There are various kinds of them for slicing hard cheeses, soft cheeses, medium cheeses, you name it. We have two of them in my house. The ordinary plastic kind, and…the kind to impress the good company with? I’m not really sure why we have two, actually, but the metal one does work better with really hard aged cheeses.
In any event, using your kaasschaaf is a skill in and of itself. It’s not easy. I’ve spent a lot of time making a lot of messes of some perfectly good cheese trying to use this thing. It takes practice and patience to get it right, but once you do, the rewards are limitless. You can have perfect slices of cheese for your sandwiches, melba toast, crackers, whatever your heart desires to have cheese on. But first you must master the fine art of using the kaasschaaf.
First, take said kaasschaaf in your hand. Have no fear, it is generally not sharp or pointy, and rarely bites.
If you are beginning with a fresh block of cheese, you can use either a knife or the kaasschaaf to shave off the plastic on both sides of the block of cheese.
To begin slicing, place the kaasschaaf at the corner of your block of cheese, with the flat side down. Although it looks like a miniature spatula, the bottom side of the kaasschaaf is actually the side for slicing.
Apply a small amount of pressure to the kaasschaaf, starting from the corner, and slide it across the block of cheese.
If you are lucky, you will end up with a perfectly sliced piece of cheese. If you are not so lucky, you’ll end up with a strange lump of cheese shavings. I’ve eaten a lot of sandwiches consisting of these cheese shavings, and although they are still delicious, they are slightly embarrassing. I’m fairly certain I just got lucky with the cheese slice in this photo.