Friday, December 4, 2015

An Iron Wok




An iron wok
When one has lived in a home for near twenty five years as I have in mine, and when the home has store rooms, attic, closets etc. one ends up collecting a lot of stuff that one does not need every day or even for years. Over the last several years it became so that if we needed something for an odd purpose suddenly, it was found somewhere in the home itself. As a result I had begun avoiding going to the market to collect more.

Nevertheless, when one visits a market for a stroll, one spots something aside from daily necessities that would make one’s living more comfortable or healthier. Today I chanced upon a small iron wok from a traditional gypsy iron worker by the road side and snapped it up. The woman wanted five dollars for it but with a bit of bargaining brought it down to three. We have a large one at home used on rare occasions but not a small one that is useful for regular cooking. There are smaller aluminum ones in the kitchen but fearing that they may not be very healthy, I avoid using those most times.

A well dressed man stopped by as I was purchasing the wok and we discussed the usefulness of cooking at times in an iron vessel. Modern stores rarely carry these now. Instead they carry utensils made mostly of stainless steel or Aluminum. The first is safe and it seems the second may not be healthy whereas cooking in iron, at least at times appears to be good for health. Earthenware is great too, perhaps the best for health, but this last is not convenient to use and their use has now more or less disappeared except in rural areas where they still cook on wood fires,

Now, we have filled it water and set it to boil on the stove in order to disinfect it and remove anything unwanted that it may have picked up from the street or manufacturing, as shown in the picture. We shall leave it then for a day to see what kind of iron it is from the amount of rust it gathers. Those that gather a lot have to be heated and oiled for storage. It is true that when one purchases a vessel from a street vendor one can not be fully sure of the composition but then one has to take a calculated chance in such things as in much else in life. Moreover this community has been preparing utensils by essentially the same process as used for hundreds of years and there is safety in a long tradition.

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