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The woman who destroyed Le Creuset

June 30, 2012

Everyone knows by now that I’m a habitual blunderer in the kitchen. It hasn’t always been that way, and I was even named “Cook of the Week” by my local newspaper back in 1974. I still have the yellowed, dog-eared issue of the Wednesday food section to prove it.

But something has happened to reverse my culinary prowess. I’m blaming it on hormones which is as good as anything to blame it on. Lately I’ve been doing lots of stupid kitchen tricks like leaving the eggs out of my quiches, forgetting to put the chicken in my chicken spaghetti, and blowing up hot dogs in the microwave. The phrase “Ooops, I’ve melted the spatula” has become my mantra.

I’ve caught the kitchen on fire twice and chewed up an entire set of silverware in the garbage disposal. Frankly, I’d be better off if I just gave up cooking, closed down the kitchen and lived off take out. 

A new low was reached last week when I destroyed my $275 Le Creuset Dutch oven which the company advertises is “virtually indestructible.” For the uninformed, Le Creuset is a prestigious internationally known brand of fancy pots and pans. I believe Le Creuset’s English translation is “the beautiful pot that costs an arm and a leg and can stun an ox.”

The welterweight enamel-coated cast iron pots are handcrafted by artisans northeast of Paris. Each piece is unique because it is created from a sand mould which is destroyed after casting. (The one destined for my house died in vain.)

The stuff is ridiculously expensive but claims to last a lifetime and promises to become a treasured heirloom to pass down to the next generation. Well, apparently not my lifetime and my heirs will be very disappointed.

Le Creuset’s assortment of pots and pans come in snazzy colors like “Dijon,” “Cassis” “Truffle” and “Indigo.” White was my choice, an unfortunate selection for someone with destructive tendencies.

Last Saturday I burned the bottom slap out of it while innocently trying to brown a pot roast. After adding oil to the pot and plopping in a beautiful chuck roast, I turned away for one second (okay maybe it was 15 minutes). Suddenly the smell of burning paint permeated the kitchen — or what I would imagine paint would smell like if it caught fire and didn’t explode.

The bottom of my beautiful Dutch oven is now a black mess and the porcelain enamel is gone … stuck to the crust of my beautiful roast. There went dinner, not to mention my most treasured kitchen implement. I frequently left the empty pot out on the cook top so people would think I had a whole set of the stuff hidden away somewhere. Frankly I was just proud to have a pot which still had its matching lid.

I’m not throwing it out. In fact, I’ve repurposed it into my garbage bowl — the place I dump my vegetable peels and coffee grounds before transferring them to the compost pile. It’s a very expensive garbage bowl and a constant reminder that it doesn’t pay to own high price cookware at my place. 

I wrote a letter to the Le Creuset and sent pictures of what I was able to do to their pan. I’m hoping they might hire me to test the durability of their products in the future.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at http://www.deludeddiva.com.

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