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The Story Of The Spoon

January 12, 2012

I hate non-stick cookware.  There, I said it.  And I’m using the term hate here…

The reason for it is that you have to treat it with kid gloves.  I told my wife early on in our marriage that I like metal spoons, and we use the metaphor often to describe our appreciation of basic utility.  Just plain, strong, long-lasting metal spoons.  And using non-stick cookware prohibits them.  Who are these upstart pans to kick out one of the quintessential tools of the kitchen?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, wooden spoons have their place and I love them.  There’s no better way to test the thickness of a sauce than coating the back of a wooden spoon.  But, to have to use nothing but?  Or plastic?  Nope.

After I was diagnosed we threw out almost all our non-stick, even my wife’s beloved “egg pan”, which she has forgiven me for.  Mostly.  And replaced them with nice, non-reactive stainless steel.  One of the pans I purchased was an All-Clad 12″ skillet.  I love it, though I’m not sure it’s so much better than the Cuisinart 8″ & 10″ I purchased for much, much less.

When the high-dollar utensil arrived it was beautiful.  Gleaming stainless steel you could use as a mirror.  I read the care instructions and saw the standard recommendation of not using metal spoons, lest you scratch the gleaming mirror finish.  Hm.  The first thing I did was saute some veggies with my metal spoon.  Scratching the surface terribly.  Then, I think I may have used our steel scouring pad to clean it, just for good measure.

I guess I bring a dude’s sort of attitude to it all.  Is it a tool or a decoration?  If it’s a tool, then I use it as such.  Beauty be damned.

This sort of sums up my philosophy of cooking, and, really, of most things.  Simple.  Basic.  Classic.  I like to say that things are a classic for a reason.  It’s easy to see things that you know well and take them for granted.  But at some point you have to take the time to appreciate the classics for the character that brought them to that status.

My favorite TV cook is Ina Garten.  Back to Basics.  Her philosophy is very much my own.  You don’t, as a cook, need to reinvent the wheel.  Some things don’t need improvement.  Many of the techniques in any trade or hobby you can think of were discovered in the early days of the craft and have never been improved upon since.

That’s not to say I’m against innovation.  Certainly my condition has forced me to re-think many dishes in an attempt to make a palatable alternative that won’t kill me.  And variations on classics are fun and provide a myriad of options.  After all, we wouldn’t have “mother sauces” if they hadn’t spawned variations.  However, I think many people write off classic techniques and approaches as soon as some “new & improved” is introduced.  But how many of these last?  At some point it always comes back to how Mom did it.

So for me, I’ll take my metal spoon, my metal pans and be happy.

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