We have a pretty kitchen at our house. We’ve got a big stove that has a convection oven. We haven’t learned how to convect, but when we do, we supposedly have an oven that will do it.
We have this kitchen because the old one was reduced to ashes in a fire last year. The fire, although electrical, started in the kitchen and there wasn’t much left when it was over.
We have lots of new stuff. We had to buy new pots and pans. They have some kind of no-stick stuff on them and I know that I will feel the wrath of my wife if I put them in the dishwasher.
By the way, that’s my dishwasher. I bought one that had been returned to a store for a bargain price of $200. It’s a fancy dishwasher made by a German outfit.
My daddy fought the Germans in World War II. He didn’t like them, particularly their moustached leader, but he always thought they made quality stuff. He never lived in a house with a dishwasher other than himself. I sometimes think he would have been proud of my German-made bargain.
But with all this newness, I miss the old stuff.
Little flat oven pans that most people would call cookie sheets are among the cheapest pans in the store. For some reason, a lot of people in my life kept them long beyond what should have been their normal life span.
I remember the little biscuit pan at my Papa Stone’s house. He had an electric range, but no running water. There was a sink that drained out into the yard and water was brought in a bucket from the well.
Across the street from where we lived in Atlanta lived George and Nora Arrington, who I called Uncle George and Aunt Nora. They had a little toaster oven, the kind with an open front.
They had a little flat cookie sheet she would place in that little oven to heat up a wonderful slice of pound cake, sometimes accompanied by ice cream or, at the very least, a little green bottle of Coke.
In later years, I remember the one at Mrs. Eckles’ house in Social Circle. They had a beautiful house that was like something out of a magazine. But they made their toast on a little pan that was bent up and tarnished.
I still have the last one of Mama’s old pans we used to make toast and biscuits — it wasn’t in the house fire. But still, it’s warped from, over the years, having been in heat that was too high. It’s tarnished and even burned in a few places.
One of my greatest cooking skills is toast burning. If you want well-done toast, show up for breakfast when I’m cooking.
The pans we have now are nice and I’m grateful that we have them. But they don’t have much character. Those old pans and their dents and dings were like a road map of our lives.
We have more precious pieces, like Mama’s china and silver that are kept in pristine condition. But there’s something special about old pans, knives, rolling pins and other implements that take you back to a place you long for.
Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.