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Traditionally, this utensil is a small knife with a straight, sharp blade that is generally three to five inches long and rounded on the cutting side. It is easy to handle and works well for peeling and coring foods or mincing and cutting small items. Working with small bits of food or small ingredients, such as shallots, garlic or fresh herbs can easily be accomplished with this knife.
Another type of paring knife known as a "bird's beak" or a "tournée" knife is also available that is used for many of the same tasks as the traditional paring knife. The bird's beak knife has a shorter blade, typically 2 to 3 inches in length, that is curved upward on both the cutting edge and the top edge. It is a knife that is commonly used to make a tournée cut in vegetables such as carrots, potatoes or sqaush. This cut is also referred to as a tourne or tourné cut.
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