Sunday, May 27, 2012

Confessions of a Kitchenware Wonk; Happy Anniversary, Dear!

OK, maybe I’m not a wonk, but probably a geek or certainly a nerd. I own a salamander and it’s not a lizard. I know the difference between larding and barding and know how to do both (with the correct tools). I have stockpots up to 32 quarts. I can bone out a chicken leaving it whole without tearing the skin. There are, at last count, 91 knives in my kitchen without any duplicates. The duplicates are in storage. I have to tell you all of this because it has to do with my anniversary.
This is a salamander.
If you heat the metal head over a flame,
you can use it to brown the tops of dishes and caramelize sugar.
Even though I work in a kitchenware store full-time, I still have to go into every single kitchenware store I see when I’m traveling. While my friends in Paris are hanging out in a cafĂ© or the hotel bar before dinner, I’m in a flea market haggling over copper snail dishes. When they’re buying shoes in Florence, I’m buying cast iron folding grills. I once hand-carried a pottery tagine through four countries over a 3-week period only to find I could buy the same one in NYC for $3 less, including shipping. Don’t even BEGIN to ask about cookbooks. I got RID of 400 of them when I moved in 2002. But the first section I beeline to, in any place that has ANY books, is the cookbook section. There must be something I have to have.

Some of my favorite scores have been at yard and tag sales. Who doesn’t need a 24” commercial spring form pan? Or a set of Victorian ice cream molds? A pickling crock? Or how about a giant, mermaid shaped ice mold? Guilty. I DID give that mermaid away to a friend  who has a boat. But, still. If we drive down a street with a yard sale sign and an arrow pointing, it's all I can do to not reach over and wrest the wheel from Chuck's grip. 

Most of this stuff DOES get used. We throw a few fairly large parties each year, the ginormous pans get pressed into service, and then schlepped back to the cellar afterwards. If any of my family or friends needs a one-time use of an item, say a set of tiered wedding cake pans, or a 2-foot pie pan, they come look in my basement pantry first. When I die, it’ll probably be best to bury my ashes with all of this stuff. It does make my day job easier, though, because if a customer needs to know about a tool or a piece of kitchen equipment, I probably already own one and use it.

I may have to get rid of some of the food processors in the basement to make room, since there are a few more things I would like to have and use. There are three down there, they all work, but as my need for larger capacity machines has grown, they’ve been “retired”. I should get rid of at least one. Or two. Or maybe the ice cream molds, since I haven’t used them since 1997. Oh dear. Its like trying to choose which of your children to give away.
What you don't see in there is the pasta maker,
and a self contained ice cream machine behind
the food processor and the mixer.
The BEST thing I ever found in a kitchenware store, though, is my husband. He was a customer at the Kitchen Kapers store I managed in a local mall, and he kept coming in and buying until I agreed to meet him for a drink. According to Rick, one of the owners, this customer had been a regular shopper since before 1980, and after all, it wasn’t like I was actually going to marry him. So I went for that drink, and ended up married to a man who bakes, cooks and arrived with AT LEAST as much kitchenware as I had.

Here's the gist, though, if I wasn't a kitchenware junkie, and hadn't followed my passion for cooking tools wherever they led me, I'd have never met the love of my life, the nicest man in the world who also makes a mean flourless chocolate torte. Who else would put up with all this cr__ oh, I mean, kitchenware. This is my piece of advice if you want to be happy. Go do what you love; good things will happen while you are busy having fun. I promise.

Happy Anniversary, Chuck! Seven more? Love you.

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