22 February 2011

Life Lesson in a Flame-Colored Pot - Le Creuset



Last year Le Creuset held an essay contest in honor of their 85th anniver- sary. Runners-up received a Le Creuset 5 1/2 Quart Round French Oven in the color of their choice. I chose the Black Onyx, but I rather wish I had chosen the Flame (for sentimental reasons). Here is my runner-up winning submission.

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.

12 comments:

Madison said...

This is such a touching story. My parents were like yours in that they also spent a large part of their income on food for us kids growing. My mom and dad are also amazing cooks, at least in my opinion. Not sure what is happening with the world when people spend so much money buying materialistic things and then complain about not having enough money to eat properly. I've wanted a Le Creuset pot for about a year now. It started when I walked into a Le Creuset outlet and saw the quality and the beautiful colors of the pots! Then I watched that movie Julie and Julia and wanted a pot to make Beef Bourguignon. I still haven't made it yet. Perhaps I need to make another visit to the outlet store.

Jean said...

Madison, thank you so much! I know when you do get your Le Creuset pan you'll really appreciate it and put it to good use. I've always thought saving up for one thing you really want and will enjoy for a long time is so much better than buying a lesser version of that item and having to replace it a number of times AND never really getting any pleasure from it.

Cranberry Morning said...

What an inspirational story, Jean! What a heritage of generous self-sacrifice your parents gave you.

Maybe the manufacturers would allow you to exchange?

Jean said...

Thanks, Judy! I try to emulate their fine qualities, but I seem best at the *less* fine ones, like my mother's propensity to accumulate paper (must tackle my filing today)!

Ami said...

Oh Jean - what a beautiful essay. I love the idea of using fine equipment - but I love even more the idea of sharing good food (and good equipment, as it turns out) as a way to connect with other humans and to show generosity. Gorgeous!

Jean said...

Ami, thank you! That experience was just one of many examples of my parents' generosity. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. All my best childhood memories have to do with food, it seems!

Jenners said...

I see why you were a winner! That was great. I'm not sure I could write an essay about any type of cooking ware! ; )

And I know these pots actually because of the color. I know my mom had one ... but I don't have any stories about it.

Jean said...

Jenners, thank you so much! I've really been enjoying *your* writing. Don't worry, you don't need to write about cookware.

Monika said...

I love that story. Thanks for sharing.

Jean said...

Thank you, Monika. I have some really funny stories, too, about my mother in the kitchen. Maybe I'll find a way to fit those in to the blog sometime.

this little piggy . . . said...

I just read this and almost teared up. I enjoyed this story so much and I do hope you share many more stories about your mother and growing up in the kitchen.

Jean said...

Thank you so much! Your comment made my day! I have no shortage of funny stories about my mother, too -- sometimes I felt like Ethel Mertz to her Lucy Ricardo!

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