Saturday, October 31, 2009

Haunted Cookware

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.

15 comments:

Lorri said...

I have some vintage cookware that belonged to my husbands mother. It is really old and cooks better than any that I own.
Lorri

Melissa in MD said...

I recently picked up an enameled cast iron pan with the stamp "Godin Made in France" on the bottom. It's just the right size and was clearly loved by someone before me. It has a small chip on the handle but is otherwise pristine.

I also have a weakness for Pyrex dishware. It's too bad because there are about a million patterns and thrift stores seem to be Where All Pyrex Goes To Die. I've learned to be very picky, otherwise it will all come home with me. My husband appreciates a nice bowl as much as the next person, but he does have his limits (and so do my cupboards).

Anonymous said...

I have an 8" square aluminum cake pan that belonged to my husband's aunt. From the info I've found online, it's from the 1950's. It has a couple of teeny-tiny holes in it, so when I want to use it, I just line it with foil. Works for me! I also have her Ecko beaters (that's what my mom used to call hers!), potato masher, measuring spoons and another gadget that I have no idea what it is. :)

thriftfully modern mommie said...

I truly believe I am summoning Julia Child every time I use my madeline pan that I received as a thrifted gift from Miss Golightly. The tender and delicious cakes that come from that pan send friends and family into a state of yum and are definitely channeled from years of talented bakers that came before me. Cheers!

Lisa B. said...

I'm on the hunt for some enamelware. Patience is key for me. Love your blog!

Frugal Babe said...

I found a large oval-shaped enameled cast iron pot with a lid a few years ago at a thrift store. It's a cheerful yellow color, and its age is anybody's guess. It's one of my favorite cooking pots, and can usually be found on my stove on weekends, simmering up a big batch of soup.

Lisa said...

I have my grandfathers cast iron pan. He called it by an unmentionable name, and I never realized how bizarre that was (or how my whole family picked up the habit of calling cast iron pans that) until I married, and shocked my mother-in-law, who thought I was angry at the pan. Not so. I love my cast iron pan.

Becca said...

This is so nice. You are right that we often leave our pots to do all of the work. My mother has Guardian wear aluminum pans which she swear by. When we find them in a garage sale she just cannot pass them up!

Becca
Please visit me at http://www.askbecca.com

Anonymous said...

It's August and I've made some headway on my xmas list! Just scored an unused Emeril cast iron grill pan. It'll be part of a kitchen-themed gift for one of my daughters I'll tie a personally designed tag to it with seasoning instructions to ensure she'll get years of use out of the stove-top grill. On sale it was $1.69 plus tax. I couldn't have found a decent stocking stuffer for that price.

AuroraSuzette said...

I have a vintage porcelin, heavy, red roasting pan that I love. I never see vintage copper pots in any thrift stores I frequent, but would love to!

Anonymous said...

I am truly your biggest fan!I started thrifting with my mother (before it was even called that) and now thrift for our grandchildren. My husband was a career army officer, so I've thrifted all over the world! My problem is , since he retired, we are not moving every 2-3 years, so my fantastic finds seem to be accumulating. Keep or sweep is good, but how about another post on perhaps too many treasures?

Maria Coria said...

I used to pass on all the stuff my mom would give me when I visited. That was until I saw how much these things cost me and used cookeware works so much better. Also most of the newer cookware is not made with the same quality. Now I love going home and seeing what thift store finds we can get!

Sherrie said...

What a great post on Haunted Cookware! I bought an old ironstone oval-shaped baking dish made in England at my local Goodwill for under $5. It's thick and rough and brown and heavy, and it has a chunk chipped out of the lip - to me it's beauty personified, but most importantly it makes the best shepherd's pie, better than when I use any other baking dish. It's like it *knows*! :-)

Gale said...

My daughters will fight over the blackened and dented Yorkshire Pudding pan. It originally belonged to my husbands great grandmother. Through the generations, nothing but Yorkshire pudding has ever been cooked in it. Every Christmas, we continue the tradition. Even my vegetarian daughter wants the tradition to continue.

Fashion Suit said...

I love cooking, I like your post about it. finish subscribing..