Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Clearance Rack

I know, I know-- covetousness is a sin. But I admit I've had my eye on something for a while now.

It's expensive. It's heavy. It's pretty. It's expensive.

Oh and also, it's expensive.

It's a Le Creuset Dutch oven. Or, as they call it, a French oven. It's essential for all those cuts of meat that get cooked for hours until they practically fall off the bone. It can be used on the stove top, the oven, or both for a single meal. Plus, it comes in a dizzying array of colors, nearly all of which I would be happy with, should one just happen to fall in my lap.

Actually, having a Le Creuset fall in my lap might break both my legs. But you know what I mean.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a store brand Dutch oven on sale for 40% off at Sur La Table.  As all mathematicians know, [Totally Ridiculous] x 0.40 = [Still Pretty Ridiculous], but the store brand's original price was Reasonable, not Ridiculous. It was available in only one color, but it happened to be a color I especially love: a deep, dark burgundy. So as not to be impulsive, I made a mental note of the item and kept walking.

I wondered, though, why is the SLT brand so much cheaper than Le Creuset? Its starting price was a mere forty percent of Le Creuset's for the same size, and the only visible differences were a shinier finish on the SLT and a stainless steel lid handle, not a composite handle. The SLT pot's weight was about equal to that of the Le Creuset, so I knew it was cast iron all the way through, not filled with aluminum or steel or some other muck.

China may have something to do with it. As I read the fine print, I noticed the SLT pot was made in China. Le Creuset pots, on the other hand, are still made in France (their bakeware is now made in China, just like everything else).  I would prefer to purchase things that are made just about anywhere but China. But I couldn't force myself to be quite stoic enough to shell out 60% more for the Le Creuset, especially when I returned to Sur La Table about ten days later.

A large sign outside the door of SLT called to me, "TAKE AN EXTRA 20% OFF ALL CLEARANCE PRICES!" Well, ok, if you insist.

The sale brought the price of the Dutch oven down to less than 50% of its original price, and to about twenty percent of the original Le Creuset price.

So far, my Dutch oven seems to perform well. The metal handle does get hot, so I must use a towel or pot holder each time I open the lid, but this is not a major disaster. I'll spare my readership a soap box speech on the downfalls of cheap consumer goods, though it plays in my head often, because for now the pot is a way to cook well, eat well, and be well.

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