Q: What has chopping parsnips got to do with the Alexander Technique?
Q: How come?
A: Because the Alexander Technique is about making the best use of what you’ve got.
By which I don’t mean finishing up those wrinkly old potatoes in the bottom of the vegetable basket. I mean making the most of what you have available in you; your arms, legs, head, feet, knees. In fact, your whole body. Taking a little minute to think about what these various bits do when you do things like chopping a parsnip.
This is the second of a mini-series looking at ways to make the best of what you’ve got. Last week was beer. Well, actually it was getting things down from a high shelf. It also works for things that aren’t beer.
So back to the parsnips.
They’re a pretty tough veggie to tackle, especially that woody bit in the middle. So take your time, and think through a checklist:
Do they chop the parsnips? (not really, they just keep you upright. No strain, just stand)
Does hunching help chop the parsnips? (No. Just no. Just leave your torso be)
Wrist or elbow? (wrist is fast and easy, elbow has more strength. Depends just how tough the parsnip is)
One hand or two hands? (there’s no rule that says you have to use just one hand. You can put your ‘other’ hand on the tip of the knife and push down from both ends together. Doubles the chopping force)
Going up? (pushing your shoulders up when you want to push the knife down is just plain contrary)
HEAD & NECK
Looking or chopping? (looking at what you are doing is good, but really doesn’t need much effort. It’s the knife going through the parsnip, not your neck)
Not part of you, but still part of the job in hand. So find yourself a chopping board, and a work surface at a decent height. And you know that beautiful, sharp knife that has been lurking in the back of the cupboard for ever. Get it out and use it.
Works for parsnips. Probably works for carrots, swede, onions, turnips, potatoes, squash…
Anyone for soup?