I don't know about you, but something I noticed myself doing nigh on ten bizillion years into my life as a home cook (that phrase is too fancy-pants; we're all home cooks, right?) was constantly fishing my two, and then after I lost one, my one Wusthof paring knife out of the dishwasher. I had been proud of myself for actually figuring out what I needed--hard to pinpoint sometimes in the kitchen--which was this sharp little plastic-handled knife for everyday tasks such as slicing lemons and trimming vegetables. I'd like to say I'm like Ora in the MFK Fisher story, deftly wielding my big chef's knife in all situations as if it were part of my hand, but I really needed this little knife. The problem was it turns out I was using it constantly. It was like having one plate, or something. I couldn't keep track of it. I'd use it, then immediately need it again, and was doing this dumb dance of taking it in and out of the dishwasher, fishing it in and out of the dirty dishes in the sink.
So I decided to take a chance on the inexpensive, beautiful, colorful, wood-handled L'Econome carbon steel paring knives I was suddenly seeing all over cooking catalogs and buy a few. (L'Econome is the kitchen utensil wing of Therias et l'econome, one of the knife companies based in Thiers, the cutlery capital of France.) I bought the colors that were on sale ($3-$4 each; usual price is $6-$7), and was immediately thrilled. I hadn't used carbon steel knives in a long time and found great satisfaction in how deliciously sharp they are. They reminded me of my grandfather's collection of carbon steel chef knives, the ones that he had sharpened so many times over his life they were reduced to these curved deadly stilettos worthy of shivving villians in the finest Italian melodrama. Anyhow, I was so excited I went and bought more. Now I now have 12, I think, standing in a jug on the counter where I can reach them. I even sprang for the little L'Econome sharpener that will presumably keep me infatuated with these knives when they start to dull.
I dunno, maybe i'm late to the foodie party with these, but either way, I'm in love. I love the cheerful colors, I love their deadly sharpness combined with a "certain expendability" (to quote Armistead Maupin's feelings about the cheap umbrellas you buy during a rainstorm). If I drop one in the crack between the refrigerator and the counter, and I will, I won't be heartsick over a $4 loss. You can find L'Econome knives in many different cooking supply and housewares catalogs these days. Look for a deal. They also carry serrated paring knives In the same multicolored handle style; more difficult to find in the US seem to be the sheep's foot and bird beak blades, cheese knives and tartineurs.