Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hooked On Clay! : An Afterschool Special

I didn't always cook in clay. I've always used good pots and pans, none of that teflon coated non stick stuff that if you turn your burners up to high your canary keels over cookware for me. Give me good quality stainless steel, or cast iron and I'm a happy and hopefully healthy camper. For some reason clay never occurred to me.

Besides cooking, I love history. Tell me how someone did things a couple of hundred years ago, and I'm in. Maybe I'm preparing for a post apocalyptic world where we're all hunted by flesh eating zombies and no one knows how to cook anything from scratch. Maybe I've seen too many of those movies. Either way I love starting out with the bare basics and going on from there. Clay would seem like a natural fit. However it wasn't. Not until I started talking to food writer and neighbor Paula Wolfert and then I started thinking about clay. I bought a clay pot. I tried it. Paula warned me to be sure and use a diffuser on my burners so that I wouldn't have an exploding clay pot. I bought a diffuser. I bought more clay pots I bought another diffuser. I was hooked, on clay.

As I pored over my Indian cookbooks, and started doing research on the internets I discovered that clay was how most of this cooking stuff started. Primitive humans, clay, water, fire, food. Let's eat!

When one cooks with clay, the food can I say it...better. More real? Earthier..and no that's not a bad joke. It tastes the way we all want food to taste. It does take longer cooking in clay. You can't just fire up the burners and get it over with. Things come to a slow boil in clay...sort of like..oh you know where I'm going. The heat builds,and so does the flavor.
There are all sorts of clay pots to choose from, fortunately most of them are very very affordable, from unglazed Egyptian Brams,
to Stoneware,

to Chinese Sandpots,



Chamba black clay cookware,

Red clay Pomaireware.

It goes on and on.
So try some clay, take your time,put something on to simmer and slow cook your way back in history.


  1. thanks, I love cooking with them.

  2. In undergrad one of my last classes of my degree was Ceramics history. From the first paintings to the first cooking vessels, clay was the medium. Not because it looked good but because it was what was best. The same minerals used in the cave paintings Lascaux, to the Venus of Willendorf are clay. Ceramic, were the first cooking vessels, the first object's of art and ritual and to this day still informs every aspect of out lives. My goal when I go back for my MFA is to work with clay and combine that with food. Not only is it the oldest technology other than maybe fire itself, but without cooking would still be eating from the cups of our hands.



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