I was going to include my Le Creuset 3.5 quart French Oven in my recent Product Placement post, but it deserves its own. I have tried in the past to send this account to the Le Creuset customer service department, but for some reason, I was never successful using their online form, and well, I guess I was too lazy to actually write it and mail it. Or perhaps it was kismet that I tell the story here.
One day, I don’t know, ten years ago? I was preparing to make a pot of chicken soup. I added the roast chicken carcass from the prior night’s dinner to my Le Creuset pot, together with a bunch of vegetables, covered it all with water and set the burner to high.
My phone rang and it was my next door neighbor and beloved friend Mr. Smith. He had fallen and could not get up. I asked him if he were able to open the door; he said he would crawl there. It was only later I realized I had a key to his house–DOH! I called an ambulance, then jumped into my car and followed. I waited in the emergency room for hours. I searched for a work number for his daughter online, not knowing the name of the school where she worked, but only where it was. I finally reached her, and told her that her father was being admitted to the hospital, as he had essentially–and I forget the medical term–disconnected his knee from the rest of his leg.
I sat with him until he was asleep. I had planned to stay until he was settled in a room but I suddenly remembered the pot on the stove. The sick feeling that came over me was indescribable. Trying to drive within the speed limit, I called the fire department. They told me I would probably get to my house before they would, and to call them then if I still needed them. As I drove, I scanned the sky for smoke, certain that my house had burned to the ground. Finally on my street, I still saw no visible signs of disaster.
I opened the door to my house, expecting dark acrid smoke to envelope me. Nope. There was a slight smell of something burning, but nothing more than what might get you up off your couch to walk around sniffing for a few minutes. I turned off the burner and lifted the cover of the pot (which was still intact, not melted and misshapen). The contents had burned into a solid black mass, like charcoal (the real kind, not the briquets). I considered throwing the pot away, but instead set it in the sink and filled it with hot water. I researched how I might clean the pot, and decided to go with a method that incorporated a lot of baking soda. After repeated applications over a number of weeks, the only evidence of my near-disaster was some discoloration on the bottom of the inside of the pan. The pot had been on a gas burner set to high for five hours.
Mr. Smith recovered, too, that time. And I think he forgave me for making him get to the door to let me in that day. The constant fresh-baked cookies probably helped my case. I never, ever made him chicken soup.