Life Lesson in a Flame-Colored Pot
My mother was a world-class cook, turning out fabulous meals for a family of six in the humble kitchen of my early childhood. And there were always extra people at our table. My parents didn't have a lot of money in those days, but they spent a disproportionate amount of the budget on food. My father, having grown up on a rather monotonous diet during the Great Depression, spared no expense when it came to food. It was important to him that his children have a varied and abundant diet.
This extended to anyone, children in particular, with whom he came in contact. Though my mother had never experienced the privations my father had, she was a very compassionate person as well. Needless to say, then, we often had twice our number for dinner.
My mother had acquired her flame-colored Le Creuset Round French Oven (not sure whether it was the 4.5- or the 5.5-quart) second-hand. With so many to cook for, family and guests, that gorgeous pan never had time to cool off.
One Saturday when my father was out pruning the trees and hedges, a man stopped to ask him if he could help. He was a migrant worker looking for some work in the off-season. My dad wasn't in the habit of hiring anyone to do work that he could do himself, but he wanted to help the man. So he hired him to take over the pruning. He was with us for a few days, during which time he was welcomed to our table.
The man did a beautiful job with the pruning (definitely an art) and also had talents in the kitchen. He loved food and insisted on helping, so my mother put him to work. On his last day she was going to be making a beef stew, and he took it over completely and added his own ethnic touches. He was delighted to be cooking in such a fine pot as the Le Creuset, and the stew was delicious.
A day or two later, I noticed the flame-colored pot was nowhere to be seen. I asked my mother where it was. Turns out, it had given the man such pleasure to use it that it gave my mother even more pleasure to give it to him when he left. She never got another.