Holistic Wellness in Austin, TX

Mindful Cooking For Better Eating (Thoughts On My Rong Ai Knife)

I love my Rong Ai cleaver & do not hold it responsible for my lack of attention.


Are you too busy to cook?  Or maybe you haven’t a lot of experience in the kitchen so you don’t cook much and/or you’re not able to create an enticing variety of culinary magic when you are in the heart of your home, e.g.; the kitchen.  Or maybe you love to cook and you are a wizard in this most excellent space.  No matter!  There is always something fun to do that can shift the energy of your kitchen space.

Would you like some inspiration?

I am writing, of course, about my new Rong Ai knife that I ordered from a small family business in China.  I love my knife (actually, it’s a bit more accurate to call it a cleaver) so much that I am compelled to share some thoughts about it.  If you are a new cook, Rong Ai knives are a great inspiration to continue your explorations in the kitchen, and if you are a seasoned artist, then their products are that much better for what you need.  In my estimation, a beautiful knife truly compels mindfulness in a cook, with excellent and indeed tasty results in consequence.

Rong Ai bag and knife edge

Rong Ai is a traditional blacksmith shop that can be found in a small town in the Sichuan province.  According to their history, Ya’an city has been the home of this little shop for over 280 years and thirteen generations.  Their pride in their work is quite touching, indeed.  Of their craftsmanship, they make each knife with attention to each step and every detail, and say of their creations, that “every knife has its soul.”

I found out about Rong Ai knives from one of my professional groups on Facebook and I waited until my birthday to order one.  My four and a half years of acupuncture school and the grueling board exams that followed plus all the hard work of building a business over the past year or so have left me feeling a little blue and a lot depleted.  I knew that I needed a truly special gift, something that had taken a lot of time, love, and effort to create, in order to feel like I had truly finished this particular chapter of my life.  I’ve not necessarily been eating well over the past year or so and I’ve certainly not enjoyed cooking the way I used to in the past.  I needed a beautiful knife to remind me that cooking is a gift and a blessing.

Rong Ai knife bag and lip glossI ordered my knife on my birthday and it arrived from China about three weeks later.  Each knife comes with gifts with purchase, and mine were a fan, a pot of lip tint, and a set of chopsticks.  It felt like my birthday all over again when I opened the beautiful boxes.  I could tell that whoever put together the package did so with love and pride in their work.

I could not wait to use my knife for the first time!

So now, several weeks later?  I’m not going to lie–it’s taken some practice to use my beautiful knife without feeling a little worried about the tips of my fingers.  And let’s face it–as an acupuncturist and traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, I need my fingertips.  But when I hold my birthday knife, I feel the weight of history in my hand.  I also am compelled to be mindful and attentive.  When I cut with my beautiful knife, I notice what I do, and I treasure not only the work that went into it, but also that which brought my food into my kitchen.



If you search online for Chinese cleavers, it’s pretty easy to find suggestions for mass-produced products.  You can find knives that are more expensive or less so, knives that you would purchase from a source here in the United States.  My vote?  Order your knife from Rong Ai.  They are so quick to ship and send, and when you hold your knife in your hand, you can feel the history of it and see its true beauty at every shining angle.  This is a beautiful, rustic, and vibrant piece of culture and you will enjoy it so much more knowing how sincere they are in its construction.  (And no, I’m not getting a commission for this; my blog is not at all monetized).

Does the thought of a kitchen knife bring you joy?  Do you love to cook, or would you like to learn?

What will you do to make your kitchen magical?

In my work as a Chinese medicine practitioner and wellness educator, it is a joy to support clients in their many and varying health journeys.  From pain relief to gut health and weight loss, aesthetic treatment, anxiety, skin concerns, and more… everyone does better when they eat well and nourish themselves in a meaningful way.  Fuchsia Dunlop’s article “Built To Last: The Chinese Cleaver Is The Only Knife You Need” is worth reading in its entirety (here).  Not only does Dunlop explain how such instruments can replace even a full set of French chef’s knives.  She also notes that, and I quote: “Using a Chinese knife can even be a meditation: in one famous passage of the Daoist classic the Zhuangzi, a description of a chef’s graceful and effortless dismemberment of an ox is used as a metaphor for the art of living.”

My knife and its use are a metaphor of sorts, even if it’s just when I press garlic with its side, or if I slice vegetables.  My kitchen is coming back to life again, and my enthusiasm for dietary therapy (for myself and for clients) is sparked anew.

Happy birthday, indeed!




ProfessionalPortraitPaula Bruno, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, an AOBTA-CP traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, and a wellness educator.  She maintains an active and growing practice at her Austin, TX offices.  Dr. Bruno is also available for distance appointments for wellness consultation or coaching.

In her first career, she was a Spanish professor.

Dr. Bruno’s specialties as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner include: • Musculoskeletal health (acute or chronic pain relief; Ehlers Danlos syndrome  & hypermobility support) • Digestive support, gut health, and weight loss • Aesthetic treatment, including scar revision • Men’s health • General preventative care and immune support for all persons.

When you are ready to discover what traditional medicine plus a vibrant and engaged approach to holistic health can do for you, either contact Dr. Bruno or book an appointment online.


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Note: Material on this web site site is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease, illness, or ailment. A TCM practitioner in Texas identifies syndrome patterns but does not diagnose illness.  Material on this web site does not purport to identify syndrome patterns.


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