We’ve long advocated the pleasure that comes from cooking in a well-made pot: one with good balance when lifted or moved it around the stove, made of material that conducts heat evenly, that feels right to whatever your particular style of cooking is. Some pots actually shift the experience of cooking altogether – for us that happens often with French copper. Heavily made, with beautiful lines, they have a certain something about them: they are both ancienne and modern, and make you feel you are part of a tradition, of artisan cooks and chefs, cooking with the seasons, with inventiveness.
Then we saw Dutch designer Aldo Bakker‘s new collection of copper. His saucepan instantly changed the way we looked at cooking vessels. We imagined cooking in this beautiful piece of sculpture that makes us think like an alchemist…what rarefied little concoction could we make?…the completely OTHER experience handling it would be. Which is, of course, what Bakkers copper is meant to do. Writes Dezeen:
“Bakker allows his products to take shape on the basis of analysis so that they can question their usage and, where necessary, give rise to new rituals or break existing patterns. The almost endless process of their realisation give them a sense of ‘inhuman’ belonging, questioning their own existence.”
“questioning usage, giving rise to new rituals, breaking existing patterns” are such amazing qualities for a pot – or anything – to have, if only Bakker had taken them a step further…
Both his gorgeous saucepan and his copper bowl are unlined, which means the copper will react to any food put into them, creating a potentially toxic mix (that is why copper pots are almost always lined with stainless steel or tin). One design blog reported erroneously that chefs like this reactivity, which isn’t exactly true: the reactivity of copper is useful only on a few very quick cooking processes, like beating egg whites for a souffle, or toasting sugar into a caramel. Practically, Bakker’s saucepan remains a piece of conceptual art: an intriguing, somewhat mind-shifting idea with the distance of art. Shoot! We would so love to cook with that wild saucepan…and experience what it’s like to cook in a sculpture.
We would gladly replace our big copper egg white bowl with Bakker’s to experience making a souffle with it: gripping that odd handle as we beat the whites by hand with a balloon whisk, and then standing it on its side (perhaps to test if the egg whites are beaten properly) but certainly just to enjoy its akimbo look…And how much more interesting it would be to serve or eat a soup from it, or a mass of farm-stand cherries – would it balance perfectly or precariously; would it tip over? We wonder if Bakker just didn’t consider these realities that were not considered in the making or if he outright ignored them in the name of aesthetics and ideals.
We’re wondering, too, if the ideas we saw in Bakker’s pot and bowl will carry over to something else in our lives, or even, ever-so-slightly, shift the way we cook in our old, beautiful French copper pots.
Click here to see more of Bakker’s creations, including an astonishing watering can.