Ruminations on cast iron


It’s not really a thing anymore for us to pass down our everyday belongings through generations. We are wired differently—perhaps because we are so wired. The phone in my pocket, as miraculous as it is, won't make it until my next birthday. I’ll just upgrade and move on.

But it’s becoming obvious there is a counter to the techno-disposable culture. We long for old things. Solid things. Lasting things. Reclaimed barn-wood farm tables. Well-oiled leather bags. Buying one of something quality, rather than four of something cheap. When we see and use and hold these things, perhaps we are admiring something we’ve lost.

For me, cast iron cookware plays that role. Working with my pans has become an almost therapeutic part of my day. Their heaviness in my hands is a comfort. Properly used, their performance outmatches the most clever of new nonstick technologies. In a dim kitchen at the end of the night, the last task is to polish on a light coat of oil to maintain their seasoning, preparing them for another day. That day will most likely start with cooking my small daughter an egg from our backyard chickens—it also feels good to source food from one’s property, rather than from a factory. Maybe one day I'll make fun of myself, looking back at how I played at cowboy cooking and urban "farming." Like looking at a picture of an old haircut. But there will be no denying it: the pans will still work great.

I mentioned to Eric, the owner of the Kitchen Engine, that I like my pans because they have the potential of lasting my whole lifetime. He didn’t hesitate before saying, “Oh, way longer than that.”

-Ross Carper