One type of thrift I've come to love is kitchen thrift, vintage cookware. I’m not writing about Calphalon or Kitchen Aid, which can be purchased at thrift stores. I’m writing about enameled cast iron from Belgium, Yugoslavia, and old copper saute pans from France. Emile Henry ceramic baking dishes from France. Haunted cookware.
Haunted by the meals they have brewed, simmered, sauteed and served. There is a spiritual element to a well-worn piece of cookware. With is comes a long history of trial and error that eventually gave rise to perfection.
We often cover our pots, set a timer, and walk away never giving one ounce of thought to what’s lies beneath. That’s when the pot takes over and orchestrates the mix into a pièce de résistance. This seasoned cookware knows how to properly blend ingredients and make them sing. They are cooking companions, friends you can count on. It’s surreal to hold the brass stem of the copper sauté and have it almost tell you when to flip the crêpe.
Sometimes I ponder the possibility of a séance around my island chopping block, inviting the women who once held these pots into my kitchen. Perhaps we might have tea and share our stories.
Never, never frown upon a piece of fine vintage cookware. Be assured, it knows more about cooking than you. Well, unless you’re my 85-year-old grandmother who lives in a house that smells like cake.
Should you see a quality piece of cookware on the shelf at a thrift store, grab it, clutch it close to your heart, and race home. It will tell you what to prepare. You just have to listen.