In praise of The French…

SO, sometimes the French get a bad rap, but I have to say, I am 100% pro-French.

Ok, maybe Paris wasn’t my favourite city in the whole world when I visited in 1999.  It was nice, but my trip to Paris was also my first experience staying in a hostel and travelling with a backpack.  I stayed at a hostel which was unfortunately named, the “Young and Happy Hostel”– trust me it was neither young, nor happy…it was gross, with a clogged shower, and 6 people in a room, and anyway, you get the point.  We stayed there for one night then upgraded ourselves to a hotel-type accommodation, there were three of us in one room and we shared a bathroom with the other people on our floor.  I’ve blocked out the name of the place but needless to say I would not have given it a 5 star review on TripAdvisor.  If you’re interested, the Young and Happy is on Trip Advisor, apparently it’s not the WORST place in Paris.  (I find that hard to believe but read for yourself.)

As I was saying, I am now official 100% Pro-France.  Amongst all of their amazing inventions- the stethoscope, tennis, the polo shirt (Rene Lacoste was WAY ahead of Ralph Lauren), antibiotics, the modern bikini, the French fry (well, maybe not but definitely the crepe which is tasty!), early cinema, ALL the cheese, Champagne and wine, the list goes on and on… but I am particularly pleased that the French invented Le Creuset Cookware.  It’s only a small thing but in the last 4 days since ours arrived, I’ve possibly made 5 dishes with it already.  Talk about a life changing kitchen item.  Wow.

For those of you who don’t know, Le Creuset is a line of cookware… although saying that is like saying that Coco Chanel made dresses.  It’s true, but entirely accurate as they are slightly better than your average pot.  Basically, they are famous for their colourful, enamel, cast iron French or Dutch Ovens—covered casseroles.  You can use them on the stove and in the oven and they make cooking a snap.  They can be used for browning meats, making stews, boiling, roasting, braising, risottos, everything.  And they have a bit of a cult following.  Celebrity chefs LOVE them, those in the Blogosphere discuss what colours are best and whether other brands are as good.  Not having grown up in an Le Creuset household (probably the only kitchen item The Mom didn’t have), I didn’t know how amazing they were firsthand.   I’d read all the reviews and seen them in action on TV, but didn’t know that it would be life changing.

The standard argument (summarised on the Culinary One website) in favour of Le Creuset is:

  • It is durable. It isn’t unusual for someone to be using 40 to 60 year old cookware
  • It heats perfectly and evenly. Food doesn’t burn easily
  • It cleans easily. The enameled coating keeps food from sticking to it
  • It is pretty! There are numerous colors available
  • It is consistently high quality
  • Can be used with gas, electric, induction, or ceramic ranges
  • Flat bottoms sit firmly on the surface of your cook top
  • Porcelain enamel coating won’t absorb odors or flavors
  • Lids seal in moisture and flavour
  • Knobs are heatproof up to 450 degrees F

And all of those are true.  Basically, it’s set and forget cookware.   It’s brilliant- you brown stuff on the stove, whack it in the oven, come back in an hour or two or three and it’s done, and juicy, and stays warm.  And it’s super easy to clean up.  (Part of my new found adulthood is handwashing things that I don’t want to be ruined.)  I haven’t cooked a bad dish in it yet!   Now I’m just looking for more things to cook in it!

Well played France, apparently being the home of pastry, art and fashion wasn’t enough, you had to go and invent the best kitchen item since the sink!

*In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not sponsored by Le Creuset but am TOTALLY open to the idea!