Menu…– Latest Episode– Podcast Archive– iTunes– SoundCloud– Stitcher– RSS FeedAbout– About– Shop– Books and also Reports– Live Events– Press– AwardsDonate– Support– SponsorContact looks at food with the lens of scientific research and background.

You are watching: Out of the pot and into the frying pan

Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and also Nicola Twilley serve up a brand brand-new episode every two weeks.


From rainbow-hued enameled stew pots to lightweight nonstick frying pans, the metal and ceramic vessels we use to warmth our food are such an daily aspect of the kitchen that they"re straightforward to take for granted. But make no mistake: the development of the pot was, after fire, one of the most crucial innovations in cooking. You"ll want to hug your favorite skillet after coming in addition to us on this journey, which varieties from some of the earliest clay pots ever found in what"s now the Sahara Desert, to the British round-bellied cast-iron number that kickbegan the Industrial Revolution, to a legal challenge in Ohio that elevated the question of Teflon"s wellness and ecological impact. Plus, can science assist us discover the perfect pot or pan? Listen in to discover out.

In our last episode, we covered one of the many vital innovations in human history: cooking food over fire. But, although cooking might have made us human, it is the development of pots that made us into cooks. As Bee Wilson, writer of Consider the Fork and regular guest, explained: "Pots brought about cuisine itself. To me, it"s the good start of cookery." Tens of thousands of years ago, the innovation of pots brought via it life-changing benefits: extended food preparation can progressively break down plants like yams and also cassava that would certainly have actually otherwise been inedible; the process releases even more starcs from foodstuffs and also therefore even more calories; lengthy boiling kills harmful microbes and also hence makes food safer; softened food prefer grains can be fed to babies, allowing kids to be weaned previously and also resulting in yet even more youngsters and also early populace growth; and also ultimately, the capability to develop dishes that were cooked slowly and also instraight, mingling many kind of different ingredients, made the organization of eating a lot even more delicious.

The power hammer at Blu Skillet (left); Patrick Maher shaping the bowl of the pan by hand also (right). Photos by Cynthia Graber.

But just how did we gain from those earliest examples of clay cooking containers to the incredible selection of forms, sizes, and materials found in kitchen cabinets approximately the world today—and what stories can those pots and pans tell over the years? In this episode, visits Blu Skillet in Seattle, Wash., to watch a carbon steel pan being forged and smithed by hand also. Julie Dunne, a.k.a.
thepotlady, a biomolecular archaeologist at the College of Bristol, describes her exploration of the earliest known pots offered to prepare vegetables. Metallurgist Ricdifficult Williams introduces us to Abraham Darby, whose breakthrough in cast iron pot-making innovation funded the R&D that resulted in the Industrial Rdevelopment. Brvery own University epidemiologist David Savitz joins us to discuss the question of whether or not the chemicals involved in Teflon pans reason wellness concerns. Finally, food science guru Harold McGee, author of On Food and also Cooking, helps us answer a seemingly difficult question: What makes the perfect pan? Listen in now!

Patrick Maher shaping the manage for a Blu Skillet pan. Photograph by Cynthia Graber.

Episode Notes

Blu Skillet

Finiburned Blu Skillet pans. Photo by Cynthia Graber. Thanks to Patrick Maher and Caryn Badgett, who invited Cynthia right into Blu Skillet"s studio in Seattle"s Ballard neighborhood to watch a pan being made. For locals, Blu Skillet hosts studio sales twice a year; otherwise, if you"re in the market for among their hand-made pans, you"ll have to attempt your luck in their monthly lottery. They"ve been offering out consistently ever before since this item in Cook"s Illustrated on carbon steel that featured their work.

See more: Why Do Spiral Galaxies Appear Blue In Color? Why Do Spiral Galaxies Often Appear Blue

Bee Wilson"s Consider the Fork

Bee Wilboy is a food writer and author of Consider the Fork: A History of How we Cook and Eat, among other books. She"s a continuous, having starred in our exceptionally first episode, "The Golden Spoon," and "First Foods: Learning to Eat." You deserve to find engineer Chuck Lemme"s reflections on the right pot in the 1988 Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery.