Today’s post is not about food, but about my love for quality, craftsmanship, and the usual habit of looking for a bargain wherever there is one to be had, which together tend to combine into a careful examination of any flea market that I come across, the search for hidden and unappreciated things that I would know the value of – and appreciate.
Things like this.
Like many a cooking aficionado, I covet copper cookware. I don’t necessarily covet it for cooking everything I can imagine in it (I am a big believer in using the right tool for the job), but I love the looks of it, and it is reputed to be better for doing a lot, if not all, kitchen jobs in. Ah scratch it, I’d want it for the looks alone!
In any case, during my last trip to the local flea market, I spotted the gleam of copper and had to stop – and there they were, dusty and tarnished and rather sad looking, stacked together with an old, dried-on paper sticker (the sort that leave ugly residue when removed) on the side saying “from 1930s”. No price. I initially read the “30s” as the price (thinking, 30sek or Swedish crowns), so I offered a 50sek bill, which the seller gave me no change to – and when I looked confused, she pointed to the sticker and I realised that it wasn’t actually the price. So when I apologized and enquired as to the price, she said that she’d meant to sell them for 20 sek each (~ €2), but that she’d let me have all three for 50. Accidental bargaining, yay!
I took them home, removed the ^!£”%!^@ sticker (which took scrubbing and liberal application of household benzene – I keep it around for just this sort of thing), and polished them gently with a bit of salt and 24% vinegar, and the gleam came back near-instantaneously.
I’d originally assumed from their construction that they may be French, until a somewhat-indignant Swedish friend took it upon himself to explain to me that Sweden has had its own copper mining, and that, in fact, it has been the largest in Europe for over a millennium (see Great Copper Mountain), and its own copper industry for as long as anyone can remember (or at least ten centuries!), and that in his opinion, most copper items found in Sweden are most likely to be local. Putting it that way, I have to agree with the voice of reason that these are, indeed, local. Makes them no less attractive to me in any way – more so, perhaps. I like things which have a local history, and it’s rather fitting that they decorate the walls under the tall, tall ceilings of our 1940s-built kitchen.
So now, I am torn – with a tested cake recipe, I could now try baking in these (I have checked and the tin lining appears to be in good condition on at least two out of three), or I could hammer tiny hooks into kitchen walls near the ceiling and hang these up for decoration, or I guess I could take them down occasionally and bake in them, and then re-polish and hang them back up… I may have to go with option #3 here. The temtation to do both is just too great.
There is no real moral to the story – well, beyond “if you see a flea market, check it”, but I figure that ought to be obvious!
That, and maybe, like with any other part of living space, if you do not love your kitchen enough (though I certainly do!), perhaps it just needs some prettier, interesting things in it which speak to you, to make it a more welcoming, happier space for you to spend time in – and therefore, to cook.
So, happy bargain-hunting and happy cooking to you all!