Created in 1829, its inspiration a Spanish folding pocket knife, the Laguiole (pronounced la-yol) is part of culinary history. Named after its birthplace in central France, it first drew attention when countless Aveyronnais decamped to Paris to find work in bistros. With its curved steel blade and sinuous handle allegedly shaped after a human thigh, the Laguiole just felt right. Now interpreted as cutlery, corkscrews, even a champagne sabre, and with designers like Philippe Starck and Andrée Putman involved, the Laguiole has moved far from its roots. A caveat: because the name was never patented, knock-offs abound. Weight and price help identify the authentic, as does the knife maker’s stamp. Ultimate gift: plane tickets and a promise to go to the source.