Strega Nona had her “magic pasta pot”, and many of us remember how it ensnared Big Anthony into all kinds of trouble in Tomie de Paola’s beloved books. We have a version of this in our own home:
We found this enormous baking dish at a tag sale some thirty years ago, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. I remember seeing it on the front lawn of a big Victorian house, the kind that had Hudson River views back when it was first built. It stood out among the other pots and pans and odds and ends, on account of its size … and color. The tag read: Le Creuset $5.00.
At the time, we were a family of two (not counting the two cats), and could not imagine ever having use for a baking dish this size. But, it was not so long ago that we had registered for a whole set of Le Creuset bakeware at B.Altman’s (sadly, no longer in existence) and so we knew the difference between a good deal and a steal. This was a steal. So we shelled out the five dollars and hauled it back to our little car. It weighed a ton, and didn’t match the rest of our set (in those days, things like this really mattered to me), but a deal is a deal. And, our set lacked something this size…who knows, we might need it someday.
“Someday” turned into “much of the time”. Thirty years, sixteen moves, three children, too many dinners to count later, it is still the baking dish I reach for. I was thinking about this as I prepared the brisket for last night’s dinner to celebrate my husband’s choir concert, with my fellow slice of lifer Bonnie and her Tuvia. We gathered around this magic pot to ladle out yet another dinner. And, like all good magic pots, it made sure that there was plenty to eat…and that it tasted good.