Victorinox 3.25-inch paring knife (about $5). Thin, flexible, cheap, and because it is so easily replaced, OK to put in the dishwasher—though other knives are not, because abrasive detergents and rapid cycles of hot and cold water dull the blade. (Also, it’s best to store knives on a magnetic rack, where the blades don’t bump into anything else and are in rust-resisting open air.)
Wüsthof Gourmet 7-inch offset serrated knife ($60 but easy to find on the Web for about $45). Designed for slicing meats and bread, though I use it for everything: The serrated blade cuts firmly and cleanly, and the offset handle gives leverage far beyond the knife’s heft.
Mac 8.5-inch chef’s knife ($130). Perfect balance and weight for my hand and arm, with a nice rectangular handle. Its straight-edged thin blade slices wonderfully without seeming frighteningly fast.
MKS 3-inch ”deep paring” (drop-point) knife ($150 from www.mksdesign.com). The spatula-shaped blade makes this good both for paring and as a miniature chef’s knife, and the bicycle-grip handle is irresistibly cool.