Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Problem With Descoware

I have a pretty good sized collection of Le Creuset enamel dutch ovens. I love the way the heavy pots heat evenly and slowly so stews simmer and conduct heat as effectively as cast iron without the extra care worries of the black frying pans (I have a few of those too). Besides, I liked that Julia and I have the same pots, the signature flame orange.
I've always thought Julia loved Le Creuset best.
Not too long ago James told me about a friend who had been collecting Descoware, gathering up little treasures on ebay. Descoware, I found after a little on-line investigation, is the American brand name for Bruxelles Ware the Belgian version of the heavy enamel cookware. Descoware, the online histories claim, was actually Julia's choice.
Although it does seems Julia used Descoware on her TV show (and it's on her stove in the Smithsonian), I do wonder which she chose first since Julia and Paul Child lived in France before Descoware was imported to the US and it seems just as likely that she could have happened onto Le Crueset, the cookware company started by two Belgian inventors. Which company had flame first, we may never know. I do know that the heavy enameled pots are unsurpassed for slow cooking of stews and braises and make me happy every time I see them.
I guess all new collectors, here in the digital age, have gotten into a little bidding trouble on ebay. It's way to easy to bid on too many things and win too many pieces. There was a pretty steady stream of boxes coming into the house for quite a while. I learned to look at all the pictures before bidding -- we got one with a pretty big chip inside. I learned that Descoware had more than one yellow. I learned there are many sizes of small covered casseroles and it's rarely the individual size I'm trying to gather. even after we had a few more bright orange pots than any normal cook would need (doesn't mean I've stopped looking at the listings mind you) I couldn't resist this strange and oblong fish cooker. I had to bid and I had to win.
Then once I had it what to do with it?
I cut some fingerling potatoes from our garden in half and tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano and popped them , in a a single layer, in a 400º oven for 15 minutes. When the potatoes were tender I moved them to the sides and laid in cubes of halibut I'd mixed with a zesty charmoula sauce (the same one I use on kebabs) and baked for 15 minutes more. A one dish dinner for my new dish.
"What came first," James asked. "The dish or the recipe?"
Hmm, he may never know for sure.


  1. Cute write up. I have just started collecting Descoware and can relate to the stream of boxes coming in the mail.

  2. I am a Descoware lover and collector as well (I wonder if we have bid against one another before!) We have a small Descoware community on Facebook - - we love to see pictures of our beloved Descoware with actual food in it!

  3. When my mother passed away I inherited all her flame Descoware icluding a huge stock pot that I can barely lift empty. Btw, Le Crueset took over Descoware and then discontinued it in favor of their own Le Crueset pieces. Julia did use Descoware. If cared for it can last forever I'm sure. Happy Cooking.