Conspicuous Consumption

Pen and palate banana

A couple of weeks ago, I got a mysterious text message from my friend Soo. “Skillets and frying pans are 40% off sticker!” it read. I was confused. Last I checked Soo was on vacation in Africa, and why would she be shopping for cookware directly before getting on an international flight? Have they started selling pots and pans in duty free? After a few follow-up questions, Soo revealed she was actually in Rhode Island, at the Le Creuset outlet, offering to buy me a cast-iron skillet. I was incredibly touched. Anyone who would spot you $80 bucks* and then lug a 15-pound pan across state borders—all in the name of a good deal!—is obviously a true friend.

Of course I took her up on the offer, because a new cast-iron skillet was on my list of “kitchen tools I hypothetically need but haven’t gotten around to purchasing.” This list is quite long. I spent my 20s struggling to pay the bills, without funds for extravagances such as fancy pans and rolling pins, and now I’m pretty well accustomed to cooking with my mom’s ancient cast-offs. I have no problem roasting chicken in a 20-year-old cake pan.

Or rather, I didn’t. Until a few weeks ago, when Soo hand-delivered this beautiful, bourgeois, baby blue accoutrement, after which point my romantic bohemian self-image was swiftly and effectively dashed. Because I really, really love this pan. I wasn’t planning on writing anything about it here because duh, I mean, how lame is it to rhapsodize about Le Creuset? It’s no mystery they make good cookware, and if you have to be a yuppie at least try not to flaunt it, is my philosophy. But weeks later, I’m still not over my shiny new toy. It is so well-(pre)seasoned that scrambled eggs barely stick to the bottom. In it, I have cooked amazingly crispy chicken, and a gloriously fluffy Dutch baby. I made a perfect frittata. Not minutes after it entered my life, I abandoned all my other long-suffering hand-me-downs, like a heartless turncoat pan snob. I’m dangerously close to giving in to the lure of overpriced cookware. Someone please stop me before I turn into GOOP.

*Soo, proving herself as devious as she is thoughtful, later insisted the pan was an early wedding gift, and refused to take my money.

6 Comments Write a comment

  1. What a true friend. Hauling weighty cooking goods on the plane is a true commitment to friendship and your marriage. Congratulations. My yuppie bohemian kitchen is fond of my Le Creuset and welcomed them with open arms.

  2. “Someone please stop me before I turn into GOOP.”

    Oh, how well you sum up my feelings. I’ve spent a decade getting creative with (a lack of) kitchen tools (erm, not that way) and pretty much pride myself on being able to make anything with a skillet, a pot and a knife… but I’ve been reading far too many food blogs lately and the world of fancy cookware is starting to lure me in. And resistance feels futile.

  3. At least you are willing to be honest about it. I feel similarly torn about these kinds of desires, and I’m a bit tired of reading cookbooks and/or blogs in which the author advises that one doesn’t need any special kitchen items, but then states a “preference” for Le Creuset, etc. Having said that, I am more than a little obsessed with my Le Creuset braiser.

  4. Lucky you to have a friend like Soo. Lucky you to have a Creuset in your kitchen closet. I always say that the best soups are made in old casseroles but at the same time, I also say that if you want something done the right way, you need the right tools. And Creuset is one of those ‘must buys’ if you enjoy cooking.p.s. love your blog. the drawings are refreshing.

  5. years ago a beau and I score an enamel cast iron cauldron at a rummage sale near Coney Island during a whirlwind tourist day in NYC en route to a wedding. It went to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis island, all over the city. I still love it shamelessly.

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