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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Thursday
Sep292011

Virtue in the Kitchen

My love for cast-iron cookware goes beyond the purely practical and into the philosophical.

A few years ago my friends Ted and Christina got me a large cast-iron skillet. I started out using it for stir-fries, because most home cooktops don’t produce heat to really get a wok hot enough for great stir-frying and the heat-retaining properties of cast-iron help compensate for that. As I got comfortable with it, it became my default cooking vessel, because it did a great job with just about everything. That’s the practical part.

The philosophical part has to do with how cast-iron cookware changes over time. As you use it, it seasons. It becomes more non-stick, easier to work with, and better at giving things you cook in it a tasty finish without burning them. Unlike my chef’s knife, which gets duller as it is used, my frying pan gets better with use.

In the Classical period, the Greek philosophers talked about arete — usually translated as virtue — as a measure of how fitted to its purpose a thing was. Aristotle used the notion of arete as the basis of his system of moral philosophy. The idea that my skillet improves its virtue with use resonates with me. And, of course, I want to see myself as less like the knife and more like the frying pan.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go apply some virtue to some steaks.




Update

Fitness: Ran 5 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 503 words, 353 seven-day average, 286 average, 52341 total, 659 to go for the week; 5-day streak

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