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Kinsler: Sister Nancy, our Italian kitchen knife, and the Holy See |

Kinsler: Sister Nancy, our Italian kitchen knife, and the Holy See

It’s been at least ten years since Natalie, a finance professor at Ohio University, traveled with a student group to the semi-picturesque Italian city of Ancona to teach business students how to work overseas. Presumably for purposes of ornamentation I was allowed to come along.


Ancona is an Adriatic seaport town where you can drive the family car onto a ferry boat and wind up in Turkey. But its local Italian cuisine was such that the most popular trattoria was in fact a Chinese restaurant.

At an overpriced dockside restaurant we decided to forage for food on our own, for our little apartment had a stove, a refrigerator and some random dinnerware. Our first shopping excursion yielded an aluminum frying pan, a 1-euro knife, some potatoes and a bottle of cooking oil. That evening I made Natalie fried potatoes. 

The Italian knife came home with us.  It has a white plastic handle, a thin blade marked KAIMANO INOX PER ALIMENTI (food-grade stainless steel) and is the best knife we’ve ever had.

Its manufacturer does no business in North America. I found some on eBay, but they were in Israel, shipping was $130, and someone else got them.

Now, Natalie attended a Catholic high school in Pittsburgh. One of her buddies there, a co-conspirator now known as Sister Nancy, took her vows after graduation and despite a well-cultivated streak of irreverence has worked in Rome for a succession of Popes, translating newspapers and writing on Vatican archaeology. 

Maybe once a year she visits the home convent in Pittsburgh, during which Sr. Nancy and I vie to horrify our innocent Natalie with inappropriate jokes.

But this year one of her fellow sisters sadly informed us that Nancy’s schedule had changed and we’d just missed our old friend. “But Sr. Nancy left something for you,” said she, handing us a bulging manila envelope.

As we drove off that night I remembered the envelope. Inside was a set of six Kaimano knives smuggled from Italy. “Sister Nancy rides again,” said Natalie.

Mark Kinsler, kinsler33@gmail.com, is a science teacher from Cleveland Heights who lives with Natalie and the 4 cats in an old house in Lancaster. 

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