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A rebel cook

For years I’ve hated the idea of a slow cooker, or worse yet, a “Crock Pot”. Even when I saw legions of fans posting almost religiously on iVillage’s most popular message boards, I just kept thinking of steamy, mushy, un-delicious foods and wondered why anyone would subject themselves to this form of cooking. So snobby right? Yeesh.

But something happened a few months ago, and I think it was O Magazine. (I know, too cool for a Crock Pot but Oprah’s magazine is fine?) I came across an article, ironically written by the former Editor in Chief of House & Garden, the now defunct Conde Nast shelter magazine. I say ironically because of the magazine’s highbrow tone  but also because I have a particular history there. I was once offered a job at House & Garden. Not a good job, but a great salary. I nearly took it, as a chance to escape life in Tennessee, but ultimately stuck with HGTV when they finally agreed to let me move back to New York. Anyway, it didn’t end well with House & Garden. It ended terribly. And I still feel bad about it.

When I saw Dominique’s article about slow cooking of all things, I was intrigued. After the magazine folded, she’d actually gotten two cookers, each a gift, and started to transform herself into a bit of an aficionado. (She’s also written a book about this time in her life, cutely called Slow Love). So it seems that slow cooking is actually cool now. Maybe not among foodies, but I dare say…it’s the new knitting. And I’m in.

The problem is, Italy.

Italians don’t do slow cookers. There aren’t any to buy and believe me I’ve tried. Every time I’ve gone to a home appliance store of any kind I always seek out the gizmo section, the one with microwaves, mixers and in Italy, a million kinds of deep fryers. Only once have I seen an actual slow cooker for sale. On an email tip from a friend of a friend, I went down into the historical center to a specialty cooking store. And there it was, nestled among several types of steamers, the only slow cooker in Italy. It was 145 euros. That’s about $200+.  Too much for a tool that I had so much disdain for, so recently. For an experimental piece of equipment, something in the 50 euro range is more appropriate. Oh well.

So, time went by until Paul went on a trip to the UK this past weekend. Off to celebrate a buddy’s upcoming wedding–you know, a Stag Do–he was in Manchester for a few days. Just long enough to hit the pubs, have a curry and run into *Marks & Sparks to pick up a slow cooker!  It’s on my table right now and I’m totally thrilled. But I can’t decide which part tickles me most: the idea of him slinking off to a huge department store in the middle of the bachelor party (to buy the least sexy appliance of all time) or trying to cram it into the overhead bin of the discount airline airplane.

To celebrate our first meal (and possibly appease the Karma gods), I’ll try Dominique’s delicious sounding recipe. I’m substituting chicken for lamb though. That’s an idea that I just haven’t converted to yet. Maybe someday another former colleague/boss/amazing woman of publishing, say Martha, will write a book about lamb and I’ll see it in a new light.

But I doubt it.

In the meantime, here’s to our own version of slow love, Italian style.

* And special thanks again, to the lovely friends (and mom) who gave us this gift certificate way back during the “Lunchorette” party before our wedding. We’re using it, one slow cooker at a time!

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