cast iron skillet

It’s Christmastime and I would be lying if I said we didn’t miss our families. We will have turkey for Christmas with all the fixings but let’s face it, the birds are more tender in America. According to my mother this is because they “let them walk around too much” over here in Germany.

I know what you’re thinking, but one little comment from her and German chicken has never tasted the same. Ever since her first encounter with cooked white meat I judge everything fowl, fact or fiction.

This is a pattern I’ve seen repeat itself over and over in my adult life. My mother makes some casual semi-superstitious statement or unassuming observation about the world at large and even though there is plenty of evidence to debunk it, even though my college educated brain screams that the hypothetical must be proven fact before actions are taken, I find myself occasionally drinking Barley Green and avoiding anything sold on TV.

Ten years ago my sister bought herself a pasta maker and pulled it out to show my mom her proud purchase. After her detailed explanation and happy dance, my mom smiled at her. “That’s great honey, I’m sure you’re going to have fun with it. But wow, it’s going to be a nightmare to clean.”

And that was the last time my sister ever looked at her pasta maker.

I have a girlfriend who told me a few months back that she no longer uses her BBQ, instead she cooks just about everything on a cast iron skillet. “I’ve been using it for the past few years,” she pitched,”It’s really well seasoned and makes everything taste amazing!” This plug was enough incentive for me to rifle through the camping supplies for my own cast iron ware–anything to improve my kitchen skills.

I’ve been faithfully using my skillet for the past few months and have been loving the results. When my mother came to visit last month I proudly pulled it out as she went to fry her eggs. “Here,” I said, “Use this. You won’t believe how good everything tastes, I’ve been seasoning it all summer.”

She gave me a dubious look. “You know that can’t really happen, right?”

“What do you mean it can’t happen?” I asked.

“You can’t actually season a skillet, it’s just something people say. I used to use one until I realized it doesn’t actually work.”


“No!” I boldly declared. “Trust me, it makes perfect scientific sense. The build up of drippings mixed with the coating of fat…” she shook her head at me and gave me that sorry-kid-you’ve-been-duped look. “Mother,” I said resorting to her Full Name, “Everybody knows that Smitty’s burgers taste better because they’ve been using the same old dirty skillet for the past 300 years, you can’t recreate that flavor in a teflon frying pan. It’s seasoned! Just…check the internet!”

She smiled and hugged me with that whatever-you-say-dear-but-we-both-know-I’m-right embrace children hate so much. I stomped around and persisted with my skillet skills for her entire two week visit.

They’ve been gone for over a month now and guess how many times I’ve cooked in my cast iron? Seasoned or not, the thing has lost all it’s flavor.

Mother-27, Science-0.



  1. Seasoning a cast iron skillet refers to a way of protecting the skillet from rust and creating a non stick surface (eventually). It’s not refering to the way cast iron flavors food. The only food I know that may take on a different flavor from a cast iron skillet is tomato sauces, sometimes they’ll taste a bit metallic after cooking since tomatoes absorb some of the iron from the pan.
    I love cooking in my cast iron skillets.

  2. That’s why I lie about my favorite things—that way my mom can’t ruin it:) JK

    Random question: I have a friend who recently got married and promptly moved over to Germany with her new husband. They are outside of Frankfurt in a place called Weisbaden (no clue if that’s how you spell it…). Any chance you’re near there?

  3. I LOVED the Smitty’s remark. I totally agree too. Thank goodness for that 300 year old grill!

  4. It is true, cast iron skillets do get “seasoned.” They are VERY porous and you couldn’t cook anything in them if they weren’t seasoned first. Think of the process as the first teflon coating, lol. With a fresh skillet, the process is to coat it with lard and bake in for at least 12 hours at around 200 Fahrenheit. That starts the seasoning, but it takes much longer for complete seasoning (all the pores to be clogged with drippings) but after a few years of regular use the coating becomes very hard, very durable and just like teflon has to be dealt with delicately. No scratching, no soaking in water for long periods of time. I’m a country girl, and these skillets are prized for making corn bread and of course for frying potatoes. And they can’t be beat for frying chicken in (and home raised chicken here in North Carolina get to walk around before butchering, lol) and studies have shown that they infuse foods with a bit more iron. So, you were right, it does happen. These skillets are handed down here like they were diamonds, because of the time it takes to get them to that perfect “seasoned” stage and I have three sizes that I would absolutely not take any money for. Well, maybe a million dollars!

  5. It’s true, you don’t get the flavor. But cooking with a cast iron skillet does boost your iron levels…