Well, I use 2 all the time but I can make do with 1, the 6 inch steel chef's knife, as long as I've got a ceramic pot or a stone to sharpen it with. The other knife I use all the time is an ancient steel paring knife. I have about 12 kitchen knives (butcher knife, 2 bread knives, 6 inch serrated knife, big chinese cleaver, another paring knife...not as good, filet knife, etc). In cultures where people have very little, one big knife is genearlly waht they have. You can always cut a small item with a big knife, but try cutting a giant hubbard squash with a paring knife.