La Cocotte, a spätzle board, and a “Quisinart”
In Japan, Staub’s “La Cocotte” is experiencing some popularity keeping in with the trend in slow life and slow food. I am not in the least amazed that this term has come into vogue in a country where most men (it’s not me being stereotypical here, it’s sadly the culture) run off early every morning to work, fret around all day at the office, and return only late after fulfilling the obligations to socialize with their co-workers. Women do this also until they marry. Then, they must manage their family’s lives, particularly their childrens’, organizing the grueling schedule of educational pursuits, most prominently memorizing absolutely anything memorize-able.
But slow life is happening. Perhaps it’s influenced by the slow pace of Buddhist reflection and contentment, but even more so by hints from the other places in the world where life is not as necessarily quite so frenetic as in Japan (though some readers may disagree).
And what is particularly slow food? You’re probably familiar with it already. It’s the goal to create time in a busy day to enjoy and slow down even if for only a meal at the end of the day. A meal that contains carefully selected ingredients, is easy to digest, and is accompanied by a glass or so of wine.* We all seem to strive for our individual interpretation of that ideal.
With this drive for slow food comes also slow cooking and la cocotte and cookbooks like this or this or this. The latter utterly fascinating and teasingly affordable and abundant, and the former being unbelievably priced, the 22cm Creuset for about $200, the 22 cm Staub selling for about $250. I bought the Staub. . . but not in Japan. My Staub was waiting for me when I arrived in Oregon on this little trip to see my parents. . . and it was a fifth the price.
As to my aspirations for my cocotte, I believe Clothilde put it better than I ever could…
“I feel a little like Calvin when he collects the points from his boxes of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs* to receive a propeller hat, with which he thinks he will be able to fly all over the world. I really believe my cocotte is a magic wand that will make whatever I cook so good my guests will go into tastebud shock and faint.”
Need one say more?
While I’m here at my parents’ house, I can pick up my poor lost spätzle board, made for making the divine dumpling noodles from southern Germany and the German-speaking part of Switzerland. You use the board to scrape pieces of dough into boiling water, then take out the noodles when they float. I really must put a recipe in here soon.
My mother also gave me what my father often called a Quisinart and purchased frequently at yard sales. I believe at one point there were three of these graters in my parents’ kitchen. Since I can’t seem to find a decent grater in Japan in even the most expansive kitchen stores, I am thoroughly pleased to receive one.
Add on the cookbooks I’m reclaiming (three Moosewoods and one chocolate cookbook), and my kitchen will hum like a well-oiled motor when I return to Kyoto.
*From the Slow Life website, http://slow-life.biz.