I'm a cooking geek and frequently find myself cooking in other people's homes when they start to prepare food and roll their eyes and sigh because they don't enjoy cooking. One thing that drives me nuts is using other people's knives that are poorly maintained and dull. I have no problem finding their steel (most of them have one in their knife "set") and at least honing their knives so I can work with a straighter edge. Many people respond with "Oh, so that's what that's for." The knives are not great, but at least they're better and safer.
We prepare Thanksgiving dinner at our son's house. In addition to all of the ingredients, we usually pack along our own knives. We gave our son some really good knives several years ago and they are nowhere to be found. Instead he and his wife purchased a Wusthof set. None of the knives are maintained and they throw them in the dishwasher to wash them.
Last year, I packed along my sharpening stones and sharpened all of their knives when I got there. After watching my DIL and SIL slicing vegetables with tiny cheap paring knives on small plastic boards, I handed them freshly sharpened knives more appropriate to the task and a wooden board. They marveled at the difference (Duh!). My son then wanted to know more about knife sharpening. I gave him a quick lesson and also talked about knife maintenance . . . including don't throw them in the dishwasher. Immediately after dinner was over, they threw all the knives (and sterling flatware) into the dishwasher. I could only stand there and shake my head.
Since they're family, I feel I have a little more latitude with what I can get away with. I don't seem to be getting through to them about the why and how of sharpening knives. I think I'll just plan on sharpening all of their knives every Thanksgiving. Friends don't seem to mind the steeling of their knives (I haven't shown up with my stones and sharpened the knives of friends . . . only family).
I try to avoid appearing to be a knife snob and being positive about the importance and joy of sharp knives. Years ago, I learned so much from friends of ours that are professional chefs and would steel our knives when they were cooking in our kitchen. This led to asking them a lot of questions about knives, knife maintenance, and sharpening. I didn't mind that they did this . . . In fact, I welcomed their insight and instruction.
Is there anyone else out there honing or sharpening other people's knives? If so, what kind of reaction do you get?