Oh the humanity!

I was recently given an early Christmas gift from a friend.

As you know from reading this blog that I hold cast iron cookware way above any other type made. It is the most versatile of all cookware. No other type of cookware is generally passed down from generation to generation as cast iron cookware is. OK, in France, copperware is regarded as the chefs choice but let’s be honest here, has anything in France ever been worth passing down from generation to generation?

Let’s take a quick peek at famous French products before going back to today’s post. There is of course;

CARS: Citroen, Peugeot and Renault. Whew! Real collector items here. Don’t pass any of ’em down to me!

 AVIATION: Eurocopter. Sure we see tons of ‘em flying around here…Not!

WRITING: Bic pens. OK, if I want a cheap disposable pen I’ll buy a Bic.

PEST CONTROL: W. A. Flick. Is this where they got the term, Flick of a Bic?

COMPUTER HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE: Ingenico. I didn’t see any at Best Buy recently.

WATER: Evian, Perrier. (only because you can’t safely drink French tap water)

True, there are numerous clothing designers and toiletries made in France but I’ve yet to see good old  rugged Carhartts or Old Spice being worn by Parisians.  I think it’s too manly for Frenchmen, it gives them hives on their sensitive skin.

So, lets agree we could survive without French copper cookware too.

Now, back to today’s post…

While I tried my best on the outside to appear pleased, inside I was horrified! To me I was holding a Stradivarius violin that had been turned into an ash tray. Let me explain. Look at the Photo below.

What a quaint photo of an old time kitchen…permanently decoupaged onto the bottom!  It would have been OK with me if the photo of the old kitchen  had been decoupaged on an old place mat or even a Museum’s Claude Monet painting but on a GRISWOLD cast iron skillet? No way Jose’ !

Just look at what they ruined. A real Griswold from the early 1900’s is a rare collectors item. Definitely worth passing down. A close up of the pan shows their trademark grinding skills. It was this incredible surface grinding that eventually led to today’s non stick cookware.

After World War ll, aluminum was plentiful. It seemed everything was being made out of it. Pots and pans did not escape this transition. Cast iron cookware was out of vogue. Too heavy, black instead of shiny silver and it heated and cooled quickly.  (Aluminum is now being investigated for the increase in Alzheimer’s disease but that’s another story.)

So what could be better than an aluminum skillet coated in Teflon? Why not just cook in toxic waste?

Poor old cast iron. All it’s wondrous properties were nearly forgotten until it was discovered that Teflon coated (PTFE) cookware releases toxic fumes at as little as 395 degrees and has been proven to kill household pet birds. At 500 degrees, humans become ill. Now you know why the art of cooking at high temperatures has nearly disappeared too. When I lived in the Florida Keys, my favorite restaurant (besides my own) had an outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen was used to cook up many Caribbean recipes under extreme temperatures, including Blackened Fish!

 Now pay attention here  because you’re about to get an outdoor cooking lesson.

You have to get your cast iron skillet red hot! Really, really hot! Then toss in a hunk of butter. Instantly, an immense amount smoke starts to billow up. That’s when you drop in a thick hunk of Mahi mahi (Dolphin to us Floridians) on top of the smoking butter. Count to 18. At 18 flip the fish over on the other side and count to 18 again. It’s now 100% DONE! Get it out of the frying pan and onto a plate. That is real heritage cooked Blackened fish! You can add ‘blackened seasoning’ if you wish but you won’t be needing it. Just a light sprinkle of ground Cheyenne, habanero or if you’re really nuts, a Caribbean ghost pepper will add the extra heat you like.

If you cooked this fish indoors on a Teflon non stick pan, you very well could have been rushed to the hospital. Non stick cookware is so common today that it’s the main reason most recipes produced by corporation kitchens recommend ‘medium low to medium high pan temperature that never goes beyond 440 degrees. (PTFE as stated earlier, non stick cookware can kill birds at 395 degrees because they release toxic fumes beginning at that temp ). If you have the ability to cook outdoors, try cooking some recipes that require extreme heat to cook by in your cast iron skillet. You’d be surprised just what a difference it makes.

While Griswold cast iron cookware is again being manufactured today, they do not hold a candle to the old ones of yesteryear. I will hang this pan up somewhere so my friend will see it on visiting. To me though, it’s kind of like stuffing your pet after it gives up the ghost and putting it in its bed. Creepy!

Now please excuse me, I need to begin my grieving process. I’ll start by lighting a candle in memory of all the wonderful meals this innocent pan provided to an individual who cruelly turned it into a proverbial ashtray.