When I die, I want to come back as an item from my wife’s kitchen, preferably her Flame colored Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron 1 ½-quart sauce pan. I certainly live a good life, but there is no doubt in my mind that Vicky’s Le Creuset cookware, her Wusthof classic (not gourmet) knives, and her Villeroy & Boch glasses live a safer and more comfortable life than me, or you, ever will.
Before I met Vicky, I had a simple relationship with my kitchen implements, most of which were hand me downs from my sisters and mother with additional items collected during my travels around the world—hand painted plates and bowls from Palestine and coffee cups from Japan are two of my most treasured and practical items. I used my kitchen utensils for their prescribed duties, sometimes more—opening cardboard boxes with a steak knife, for instance—and when they were done with their job cutting, holding water, or heating things, I would give them a quick wash and toss them into a cabinet or drawer. It was all pretty basic. My wife’s relationship with all things culinary is a bit more sophisticated.
In the months following our engagement, the bedroom of our Brooklyn apartment overflowed with all things kitchen. When I asked why these items couldn’t be stored in the dining room, a look of terror crossed my soon-to-be wife’s face. She exclaimed that Nimera, my cat, might tip over and shatter a box of champagne glasses. This seemed plausible, so I allowed the growing mountain of glassware to live in our bedroom, where my cat, for some unknown reason, is forbidden to enter. Though, when Le Creuset cookware took up residence in the bedroom, I was a bit perplexed; Nimera is quite strong and inquisitive, but I didn’t think she had the power to knock over and break a three-pound saucepan. And, it wasn’t just that the cookware lived in the bedroom, it was also unpacked and delicately placed around the bed like some sort of creepy shrine to Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq, Le Creuset’s founders. As our wedding date got closer, getting to bed often involved a game of hopscotch.
After our wedding, when Vicky finally allowed us to start using our new kitchen items, I quickly gained a better appreciation for the cookware. Vicky’s meals weren’t tastier than before, but her smile, which reached across the kitchen each time she cooked a favorite dish of her mothers, often a beef stew or roast chicken, made me truly understand Vicky’s love of fine cookware.
A few years ago, when Vicky and I moved to Switzerland, she asked if she could unpack and organize the kitchen. I was in charge of the rest of the house, so I happily obliged. The next morning, after Vicky left for work, I went to the kitchen to make coffee and toast. I reached for a dishtowel to wipe the countertop but couldn’t find one. After a few minutes searching, and swearing, I pulled out the large drawer below the oven and found the dish towels. Though, it seemed that Vicky had recommissioned them for other purposes. In between each piece of cookware she had placed one, sometimes two, dishtowels. I knew better, though, then to remove them without first asking Vicky, so I dried my hands on my shirt.
Upon returning from a week away for work, I found yet another new Le Creuset resting next to Vicky’s side of the bed—this is where they often sit in a baptismal like manner until they are called for duty in the kitchen. When I asked what this particular piece of cookware was for, she stated that this Flame colored 7 ¼-quarts Signature Cast-Iron Round Dutch Oven, which was supposedly a Christmas gift from her parents—odd that it somehow showed up in April—is great for chilis, roasting, and stews. When I mentioned that we already had a slow cooker and two pots that looked quite similar to the new one, I was politely told that the slow cooker is only 5 quarts; the white and blue Le Creuset Dutch Oven, not pot, is only 3 ½ quarts; and the 5-quart Flame La Creuset Dutch Oven is oval, not round. I couldn’t argue with any of these facts but was still utterly confused.
While I have license to use the glasses, stainless steel pots, and knives, I have learned that it’s in my best interest to request permission before using any Le Creuset cookware. Whenever I pull out the Signature Cast Iron 1 ½-quart Flame colored saucepan to prepare oatmeal, Vicky’s face turns ashen. She then quickly reminds me that if I am going to use her Signature Cast Iron saucepan, I can only use the Marseille Blue Le Creuset silicon spoon to mix the oatmeal and that I am by no means to wash the pan without first letting it cool down. Then, I should soak the pan for ten minutes in warm, not hot, soapy water before taking the special William-Sonoma Maier Nonstick Pan Cleaning Brush to remove any remaining oatmeal. Finally, I should lay a dishtowel on the counter and gently place the saucepan on it to air dry. By no means should I attempt to put it away.
When Vicky and I wrote our wills last year, our two chief concerns were our investments and healthcare proxies. Vicky’s other chief concern was her cookware collection. Even though we are married, I don’t think I will have a claim to any of her kitchen items. I have a feeling that she, like the Egyptians, will choose to be buried with her favorite bowls, pots, and dishes. My only hope, then, is to be reincarnated as her Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron 1 ½-quart saucepan. Though, my color choice is Lapis, not Flame.
Tommy Mulvoy is an American expat living in Basel, Switzerland with his wife, Vicky, and son, Aksel. When not chasing after Aksel, or keeping peace between the family’s pets, he teaches English and Special Education at the International School of Basel. His work has appeared on fatherly.com, motherwellmag.com, and Conquista magazine.