Object Love: Cast-Iron Frying Pan

Hi there. My name is Lisa, and I have a crush on my cast-iron frying pan.

No photo can capture the beauty that is the pan.

Is that bad? It’s probably bad. How can an aspiring minimalist admit such a thing? It was expensive, for one thing. It’s super-heavy. I have another frying pan that was given to me and the hubbo for our wedding, a perfectly nice high-end frying pan that I’m totally indifferent to. And Ms. Cast-Iron doesn’t fit into a backpack. (If I quit my job tomorrow, I’d have to put my pan into storage to go travelling and live a location-independent life – oh, the horror!) Man, that pan is messing up my minimalist cred, and this blog post has barely begun.

But I won’t deny that certain objects instill in me- persist in instilling in me – a kind of fluttery feeling. A sweet spreading flush. A feeling – yes, it’s true – of complete consumer satisfaction. As I travel (slowly, slowly) towards a state of less stuff in many areas of my life, I can admit that certain objets still hold me completely in their thrall. One such object is the aforementioned cast-iron frying pan.

During a recent critical assessment of the Kitchen Situation here at Casa Semi-Material (verdict: way, way too many dishes), I made a list of the crucial components of my daily kitchen life. We do quite a bit of cooking, and I quietly took note of the most used equipment over the course of about two weeks. The list that emerged was as follows:

1. blender

2. chef’s knife

3. paring knife

4. large cutting board

5. large mixing bowl

6. medium-sized mixing bowl

7. large stainless steel copper-bottomed pot

8. stainless steel colander

9. silicone spatula

10. the cast-iron pan

Sure, there were other items that passed through my hands to make our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and I haven’t included utensils or plates or cups, obviously – but these were the most-used items, and I’ve decided that in my leave-the-house-in-an-emergency, forlornly-towing-my-possessions-in-a-wagon fantasy, these would be the 10 items I’d grab. However, the item that gives me most bang for my kitchen-buck, plus the fluttery feeling, is the cast iron pan, hands-down.

Why? Well, if I’m being completely honest, this is why:

Because it’s French. I’m a sucker for well-made French cookware. Curse you, Le Creuset!

Because it cooks everything perfectly: sauces, burgers, frittatas, cornbread, spices, curry. (Well, maybe it doesn’t fry eggs very well. If I’m forced to admit it.)

Because it’s environmentally sound: it will last forever and never emit toxic fumes from overheating. And it won’t end up in a landfill: there are cast-iron pans out there in the world, I hear, generations old and still going strong. If I have my way, my son will be cooking stuff in that pan for years after I’ve moved onto mush.

Because it is beautiful, and it gives me the pleasure that beautiful, useful, timeless objects give us when they are regularly appreciated, used, and well cared-for. Did I mention that the pan in question is fire-engine red? Yep. It’s a beaut.

So I put it to you: is there anything you own that gives you the fluttery feeling, without guilt or pause, minimalist compulsions be damned?

PS: In a synchronistic turn of events, Miss Minimalist has started a feature on her blog called 100 Things which features items she owns and loves, plus her rationale for choosing to include them in her life. Her current post is about her love for her handbag – cute!

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About Lisa

Living with stuff since 1972. Writing about it since 2011.
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3 Responses to Object Love: Cast-Iron Frying Pan

  1. jen says:

    I feel the same way about my Dutch oven…it’s lime green, cleans up with no fuss,and everything I cook in it comes out perfect. I smile to see it sitting on my stovetop.

  2. smg™ says:

    Gaa! I am drowning in stuff! I moved recently and managed to compress the entire shebang into a cube van that I should have paid extra to have driven to New Jersey for disposal–no questions asked–by whoever took over from Tony Soprano when his series ended, but instead I let it out into my new apartment and it exploded like a puffball hellbent on pollinating new terrain. Every object I pick up pierces me with some memory I thought long lost, and I can’t bring myself to get rid of any of it. I wish I could remember people’s names with such clarity. That would be a lot more useful. Anyhoo, I too have a cast-iron pan, one I am in a constant battle with. Damn thing won’t season. Cooked bacon in it for a week hoping to lay down a good base and I think I have a thicker non-stick coating than it does. I know my coronary arteries do, if my growing shortness of breath is any indication. And dogs keep following me around in the street with saliva dripping from their jaws. All that to say, stuff and I are on a different footing than you and yours, but I am very glad to have found your blog. Keep up the good work.

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