Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Tell- Tale Teflon Heart

On and off for about the past fifteen years I have been involved in some very unhealthy relationships. These relationships have been quite tumultuous, albeit predictable at the same time. I never quite knew what was going to happen, but in the end it was always the same- broken promises, shattered dreams and unabashed disappointment.

It was the claims that the integrity of these relationships would last forever, only to have them end abruptly out of nowhere that hurt me so much. Or even worse, to have such intense, fiery and passionate experiences slowly and painfully become moribund. In a word, the relationships where the partner is resolved to be forgotten about in a basement storage unit or given away to a thrift store, because they're "not needed" anymore. To witness the decline of something that works flawlessly and then fails miserably is simply heartbreaking, especially when my last relationship was eight long years of happiness, only to abruptly crash and burn one hot summer afternoon.

OK, I'm not actually talking about romance, friendships, or any kind relationship with another human being here. I'm talking about pans. That's right- PANS. The ones you cook with. Specifically, Teflon pans and their claims of non stick durability.

First of all, I need to challenge that statement by saying "Non stick durability my ass." Teflon pans are an overrated, disingenuous load of shite. Since I moved out of my mother's house in 1993, I have owned no less than eight of these pieces of disposable junk. The irony too is, I consider myself to be no slouch in the kitchen, and am the proud owner of some very fine kitchen accessories. I was just well... a bit slow on the uptake when it came to cooking with a decent frying pan.

What has ALWAYS ended up happening with every Teflon pan I've ever owned, is that eventually it will stop being non stick. Then you'll actually see pieces of the Teflon coming off the pan and in your food. Sometimes the Teflon will actually peel off as though it's healing from an aluminum sunburn or something. Either way, when you pay $15 or more for a freakin pan, I think the damn thing should last a lot longer than these crappy Teflon pans I've owned. I'd average between two and five years TOPS for most of these aluminum abominations I've owned, and that's being generous.

As I stated before, my last "relationship" with one of these godawful, cancer causing, landfill polluting, toxic fume emitting tools of Satan actually lasted eight years. I have to admit that that pan impressed me, and restored my faith in Teflon cookware. I was convinced that this pan would actually outlive me, but as I said before, last summer she finally bit the dust. Once I had to use a Brillo pad to clean her, I knew her non stick coating had become a thing of the past.

It was my sister who first started giving me crap about using Teflon cookware. My sister is a very intelligent person, but often tends to have a one track mind. Once she started extolling the virtues of her new cast iron skillet, it was literally ALL she would talk about. We'd be having a conversation where I'd say "Hey sis, did you go see that 300 movie?" and she'd reply "No, not yet. Hey, did you know you can bake cornbread in a cast iron skillet?" Or "Hey sis, have you ever tried pico de gallo?" and she'd reply "No, but I bet I could cook that up in my new cast iron skillet." Or even "Hey sis, is your neighbor still being real loud and obnoxious?" and she'd say "Yes he is, and if he doesn't stop I think I'll have to beat him to death with my new cast iron skillet." And on... and on....

Anyway, after my last Teflon pan died, I refused to ever purchase another one. Being that I am a true Capricorn, I like things that last forever. I'm still cooking with the same stainless steel Revere Ware saucepan that I bought at a thrift store back in 1993, and I see no reason why my frying pans shouldn't have the same longevity. So taking my sister's advice, I FINALLY broke down and bought a cast iron skillet.

And what a gem she is. It was pre- seasoned, so that meant it was ready for cooking right away. Let me tell you, this pan is a thing of beauty. The best part is that it isn't picky about how or where you use it. Open flame, gas, electric, it really doesn't matter. You can also beat the hell out of it with metal utensils and it doesn't matter. None of this can be done with Teflon.

The only part of cast iron which is a bit of a pain is that you cannot clean it with soap. When you're done eating, clean up is done with water only, and when you're finished you have to coat the pan with a light coat of oil so it doesn't rust. If it begins to lose it's non stickness, you have to "season" it, which means coating it with oil and then baking it for about an hour (or until it stops smoking). This is a small price to pay for a pan that will last you several lifetimes. My 12" cast iron skillet only cost me $13 at Marshall's, although I will definitely break down for some nicer, more expensive Lodge brand cast iron pots and pans in the future.

As I stated in a previous post, I hate the fact that everything is disposable in our culture, and that includes things like cookware. It was about time that I applied my "use it until it is useless" philosophy to cookware, and I am very happy that I did. The best thing about cast iron is that the more you use it, the better it works. This is the exact opposite of Teflon, which ALWAYS breaks down eventually. Cast iron also heats more evenly, and well, basically just kicks the crap out of cheap ass Teflon junk any day.

Anyway, check out the youtube channel jaybobed proof of cast iron's non stick integrity. This guy is a hoot, but he knows about quality cookware for sure!