Pan passion

Pan passion

Aylin Öney Tan -
Pan passion It was back in 1961 when Jackie Kennedy was pictured buying a Tefal pan in a store in New York. She surely had been a pioneer in spreading French style in the United States, but her taste was more in line with haute couture rather than French cuisine. She was a fashion icon who appeared in Chanel tailored suits and who was unlikely to be pictured with a humble pan in her hand - her place was definitely not in the kitchen. That was the era of glamorous women like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly, not domestic goddesses. It was more the part of Julia Child to spread French tastes to the American public. The story goes back to 1954, when French inventor Marc Grégoire, thought about coating the ordinary aluminum pan to make it non-stick. That idea changed our vision of a pan forever: We got stuck to non-stick pans!

As anyone who owns a classic wok knows, seasoning a wok can be a nuisance if you’re not accustomed to the process. I first learned how to season one through Chinese cookbooks, especially informative ones like the one by Yan Kit So. Then I witnessed the process in practice from my friend Fuchsia Dunlop, a foremost authority in Chinese cookery in Britain. When Fuchsia was showing me how to treat the pan, I remember vaguely that I had the feeling of de-ja-vu, as my aunts always did a similar thing to treat their pans. Years later when I was doing a research on the history of poppy cultivation in Turkey, I had a similar feeling. One poppy oil presser was showing me how to make an ordinary aluminum pan become a non-stick one with the aid of a coating by poppy oil. He repeatedly said, “Like Teflon.” We were in a remote village in Afyon, practically in the middle of nowhere, and this man, thinking that as an urban lady I’d only understand what he means in terms of a reference to a high-tech utensil, just kept saying, “Like Teflon, may God make you believe. It won’t stick!” so your food won’t be sticking to the pan. 

It was quite a strange conversation about the merits of poppy oil, but then I realized that we take such technology for granted and we no longer think about its background. The other week, when I got a breakfast invitation from my friend Kerem Savaş to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Tefal, I remembered this incident. I did not make it to the breakfast, but I kept wondering about the history behind the invention every time I fried an egg. 

The company gets its name from the words Teflon and aluminum: Teflon being the name of a space technology, originally used by NASA to coat satellites. Marc Grégoire patented his “non-stick frying pan” in 1954. His innovative concept involved a process used to fix PTFE, a material with non-stick properties, to an aluminum disk. The result is a totally non-stick pan that makes cooking much simpler. The first factory was opened in a suburb of Paris, but the idea soon caught the attention of all women around the world, including the first lady of America, making the pan a passion for all!

Bite of the Week

Recipe of the Week: Pancake of course. The easiest recipe to remember is 1:1:1; 1 egg, beaten with 1 cup of milk, and mixed to 1 cup of flour, 1 small teaspoon (Turkish teaspoon which is equivalent of ½ normal teaspoon), 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon of melted butter or oil. Actually the new craze coconut oil also works wonderfully, giving a faint aroma of coconut. My hint: Add a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla essence. Mix thoroughly and drop by spoonful to a non-stick pan, flip over when bubbles form on top, cook until golden on both sides. Enjoy with “kaymak” (Turkish clotted cream and honey) or your favorite jam. 

Cork of the Week: Last week I incidentally had a chance to attend a grand tasting of Kayra wines in London, led by Daniel O’Donnell, the talented wine maker who is also gifted in talking about wine. It is always a delight to listen to Daniel, his funny stories in Turkey, and about his unconventional approach to the wine industry in the country. It was also an opportunity to taste a wide range of their wines, as such organizations are rarely held in our own country due to restrictions on advertising alcoholic drinks. I must admit that being in London proved to be useful to have the opportunity to taste the Imperial Öküzgözü Reserve line, and being updated in the Buzbağ Reserve range, the classic combo of Öküzgözü and Boğazkere grapes, all worth stocking.