When I got married I brought very few useful items to the union. One cherished article, however, was a cast iron pan that I had been seasoning for more than a decade. Admittedly it looked a bit scary, but the food that was prepared in that flavor-soaked pan was remarkable and satisfying at the deepest level.
When we were getting settled in our new apartment, and while I was off tending to some business, my lovely wife decided to clean my beloved pan. I am sure she was thinking that this would please me and perhaps signal her commitment to doing whatever it took to make our new home safe and clean. After an hour with a stainless steel Brillo pad and a quart of dish soap the pan was indeed spotless. The next morning when I pulled out the pan to make a signature dish I was mortified. I believe we went out for breakfast that morning, the pan was thrown away, and I eventually recovered but obviously never forgot the sting
There is something precious about objects that improve and become more satisfying with time and use.
This is the same reason why some of the best meals can be found in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, why some of the best music can be heard at dive bars in the less restricted parts of town and why you never refinish an antique. Authentic, venacular production is often a messy, unwieldy endeavor. Professionals are often trained to sanitize, scrub and give order to environments. In some cases they attempt to recreate a faux patina but it always falls short of the original’s life and vitality. That is why I am so pleased when I discover a beautiful, contemporary patina, created unintentionally through everyday use, in an unexpected place. In an age where everything is absorbed, sanitized and repackaged for consumption, the un-curated, spontaneous seasoning of the built environment is hard to find.