In our Summer Issue, we have a fascinating article on the mystique of cooking in clay. It may seem to be an odd article to feature in a Summer Issue, but many of the summer dishes and regions of the world we associate with summer use clay pots for cooking – The Mediterranean, for example.
In our article Paula Wolfert, who is known as the queen of American clay pot cooking, says she became a “clay pot junkie” at the age of 19. Here is an excerpt from “The Clay Mystique” explaining her “habit”.
“I bought my first, a potbellied tripiere, used for cooking tripe…” When telling this tale, which Wolfert has done many times, she goes on to say that, at the time, she didn’t even know what tripe was, and chose the vessel simply for its good looks. Forty-eight years later she still can’t kick the habit. While traveling throughout the Old World, from Morocco and Turkey to Italy and France, Wolfert has collected hundreds of ceramic pots, each one possessing a slightly different clay material, shape, size, purpose, and cultural history. In many cases, Wolfert just fell for good looks again; but in most cases, there were slight differences in what each pot could do to food—all of them delicious.”
There are many reasons why cooking in a clay pot is a plus, especially if you love flavorful, tender, and delicate dishes. Here’s 5 just for starters…
1. Slow: Clay pots are porous, allowing both moisture and heat to circulate easily through them – perfect for even, slow cooking.
2. Flavor: Moisture is retained thus making your food juicy and more tender and it deepens the spices and seasoning, making food more flavorful.
3. Nutrients: As clay pots create a closed cooking environment food retains its vitamins and nutrients.
4. Organic: Clay is an organic material. Clay pots get better with age, last a long time, and are bio-degradable.
5. Good Looks: Clay pots come in all shapes, sizes, colors and are both beautiful and practical.
Give a clay pot a try this summer and, while you are cooking, dream of being on the shores of the azure blue Mediterranean Sea. Sigh!