I say a heartfelt farewell to my old, dirty, rusted, bent, loved old friend.
Today I purchased a new wok.
This is not something I planned to do. I’ve been happy with the one I have, dispite the grimy rivets, beat-up handle and warped, burned bottom. Like an old blanket, it’s just something I’m comfortable with.
My wife isn’t. She doesn’t like the way it tilts when resting on the burner. She is put off by the fact that, even when cleaned, the cooking surface sheds a little bit of rust (especially when not protected by a light coating of oil). She doesn’t like the cheap lid.
I realized today that my wok is more than twelve years old. I can still remember standing in the kitchen of my own apartment in Chapel Hill, frying ginger and garlic in preparation for a dish. The year before was my ill-conceived attempt at a beef stir fry with apples and cinnamon. There was soup with tofu and pineapple and fragrant curry in a kitchen I shared with 4 much older and more mature housemates.
There were wonderful Thai dishes from my favorite cookbook.
I don’t remember exactly when I got this wok, so I don’t remember the earliest meals I cooked in it. I believe it was a Christmas gift from my mother. I remember taking the responsibility of seasoning it very seriously. I got it during the early stages of a culinary awakening that was fostered by people who are now old friends. Since that time I have used my wok to make stir fry, hot dogs, steamed pork buns, fish, soup, quesadillas, pad thai, omelets, pancakes, and toast. It has been the most frequently utilized weapon in my kitchen arsenal.
It is a relic of my past, a reminder of good times. Meals are always good times. At least the ones that I remember sharing with other people. I am fortunate that there have been so many.
This evening we went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a Calphalon stainless steel wok. Stainless will be easier to care for and sturdier than the carbon steel I’ve had. The new wok is deep, has a good heft, and comes with a sturdy glass lid. I’m married now, with a child on the way, and I have the grown up kitchen implements to prove it.
I think the first thing we make with it will be my wife’s excellent Ma Po tofu.
So I say a heartfelt farewell to my old, dirty, rusted, bent, loved old friend. Thanks for being there as I grew up.