I’ve joined a cult.
In case you’re wondering, it’s called the “Geeks Who Cook with Cast Iron and Write About it Online Cult.”
It goes something like this:
A few years ago we upgraded to a gas range in our kitchen. To honour that upgrade, I went out and bought a large cast iron griddle. That hunk of seasoned wonderment has become our weekend breakfast gathering place as Claire and I built a humble but tasty daddy-daughter tradition of sharing chocolate chip pancakes once per week. She’s done some of her first real cooking on that griddle. And I’ve personally flipped thousands of flapjacks from it’s hot surface on many-a-Saturday morning.
Ah… how sentimental.
Then about a year ago — thanks to my sloppy maintenance and some random careless cleaning– some of the original seasoning started to chip off on one quadrant of the griddle. I worked around it. I cooked on, dealing with the frustrating loss of real estate on my cooking surface. Then I got annoyed enough that I got brave and took some steel wool to the area and then did what I thought was a good polish-and-reseasoning. It wasn’t. And a few months passed and the chipped area became little more than a batter-magnet and cooking on that end of the griddle turned into more of a pain than it was really worth.
So, I did what any good geek would do: some online research. Ohhhhh… did I do some research. Videos. Articles. Podcasts. More videos. I can’t even tell you how many people make videos of themselves seasoning cast iron pans. It’s like a really sad, sad meme. But I watched every. single. one.
Long story short, I ended up learning far, far, far more than I’d ever thought possible about the history, manufacture, care, cleaning, love, and –yes– the cult-like nature of modern folks who love to use and share that love about using their cast iron.
It truly is pretty much a cult. And if you are remotely interested in food preparation, it’s so easy to be drawn into the palaver and other pointlessly drawn out debate. Brand? What type of oil? Soap or no soap? Metal utensils?!? Pre-heating strategies? OMG!The horror!
So then I really dug in: I set to fixing my griddle. I stripped and cleaned it: I burned off the seasoning and brought it to bare metal. I washed it in the backyard. Then I did a full re-seasoning of it (which sounds way more impressive than it really is.) And now, a few weeks later we’ve been using it as though it’s fresh from the factory, smooth. The Saturday Pancake Tradition is alive and well.
In the meantime — and as I wrote about in an earlier post — I’ve bought two three more cast iron pieces for the kitchen: a loaf pan, a skillet, and a wok. Additionally, I’ve dug out our 10 inch pan and I’ve been nursing it back to life once again (it was seeming to be going the way of my previously doomed griddle!)
Alas, I fear that I’ve been indoctrinated, well and good, maybe even permanently. I’m a convert to the cast iron club of the clinically insane. Addicted and oblivious.
The thing is, if anyone tries to stage an intervention –well, they can try, but they’re going to be well-fed first.