31.08.2021, 09:17

The housewife owns 1.5 tons of cast iron pots and forks

HA NOI – After more than a year living in Ho Chi Minh City, Ms. An Thuy brought back to Hanoi 1.5 tons of kitchenware, most of which were cheap second-hand but she “revived” like new.

Passion for kitchen utensils came to Ms. An Thuy, from Thanh Xuan district, Hanoi, many years ago, while working as a salesperson at a beverage corporation. At that time, on the way to the office, she often passed a store selling promotional items of famous brands, Thuy often came here to “hunt” kitchen utensils. Quality items, but limited designs, so she only occasionally adds an item to the collection.

In mid-2019, Thuy and her daughter entered Ho Chi Minh City. Incidentally, the place where the mother and daughter live is located near second-hand shops on the inter-zone 4-5 road, along both sides of National Highway 1A, Binh Hung Hoa B, Binh Tan district. “I see rusty cast-iron pots and pans, thrown away. These are all items of famous brands but users don’t know. My passion for kitchenware rises,” she said.

The housewife owns 1.5 tons of cast iron pots and forks
Thuy and her daughter. Photo: Character provided

The trend of using cast iron has appeared in recent years when families are increasingly interested in the quality of meals. During the quarantine season because of Covid-19, many privileged families have invested billions in kitchen equipment, including cast iron pots and pans of world-famous brands. The prices of these products are not cheap and are not for the masses.

For An Thuy, the demand for kitchenware no longer stops at serving daily meals, but becomes “addicted and collected”. At first, she went to the second-hand shops a few times a week, then every day she came to help the yard owners sort things, so she could buy a lot of good things at very cheap prices. “In the past, in Hanoi, I never imagined that kitchen appliances would have second-hand items. When I entered Saigon, I felt like I was waving in the big sea, freely choosing my favorite dishes day in and day out. other,” said Thuy.

Among these items, she pays the most attention to casting iron pots and pans because it is usually very dirty. Many items are considered garbage by the yard owner because no one buys them because they are too rusty and heavy. She picks up things people throw away and finds a way to make them new again. Since then, she has become more and more drawn to cast iron items, prices ranging from several tens of thousands of dong per kilogram. The most expensive item she bought was about 300,000 VND per kilogram. These are all products of famous European brands such as Le Creuset, Staub… the usual prices are from a few million to tens of millions of dong.

At the same time, she also collects many stainless steel utensils such as cups, spoons, forks, knives of other famous brands such as WMF, Fissler, Tefal, Kai… There are gold-plated, silver-plated, and crystal-ceramic spoons. In fact, the new purchase price is a million dong, but there it is thrown away and sold by the weight, not worth much. To ensure the collectible nature, she only chooses unfamiliar items, few people know the use, through the brand name attached to the product.

Thuy’s experience is that these items are sold at very low prices by the yard owners because they do not know the use. With raw cast iron pots and pans, the rustier, the more you should buy because of the cheap price. If the enameled cast iron pot is burnt or dirty, you can still buy it, but if it is broken, you should not buy it. For kitchen utensils, including spoons, forks, knives, tongs, soup ladles, grated vegetables, meat skewers… don’t be afraid to get dirty. The more black and ugly the items are, the more silver they are, the more valuable they are. Nearly all tarnish and rust stains can be treated.

A corner of Thuy’s kitchen. Photo: Character provided

Through much tinkering, Thuy found a way to turn old things into new. With raw cast iron pots and pans, she put them in a basin to soak overnight. Then use an iron brush to rub on the rust, do it over and over again until the stains come off and fade away. Rinse the pan underwater several times, drying with a towel. Using a small paintbrush, with a little cooking oil, apply it around the inside and outside. Put cast iron pots and pans on the stove and cook on low heat for 15 minutes or more until the pan has a light layer of white smoke, then turn off the heat. This step is called “oiling” for raw cast iron pots and pans, not for enameled cast iron pots and pans.

With stainless steel utensils and utensils, the fix is ​​very simple. Pour the spoon and fork into a basin of water mixed with dishwashing liquid, soak for a few hours. Use a soft washcloth to scrub as you would a normal dishwasher to remove dirt. Which turns black, apply sumo cream, rub vigorously with a soft towel, or toothbrush. With the stains in the motifs, Ms. Thuy used a broom with copper threads to brush into the small slots.

“I call this cleaning ‘spa’, it’s very meticulous and takes a long time, but when I see it shine again, it is no longer difficult. After the ‘spa’, the items look like new and better quality than the common goods being sold on the market,” Thuy said.

Raw cast iron items before and after being “spa” by her. Photo: Character provided

In mid-2020, when she moved to Hanoi, Ms. Thuy brought 1.5 tons of collectible kitchenware. Since then, she has sold less, keeping only her favorite items. Currently, she owns more than 70 cast iron pots of all sizes, thousands of spoons and forks, in addition to baking items, beer lighters… Among these, there are dishes she likes such as a set of copper spoons, a wooden handle with a Buddha image with 64 items, 40 years of seniority. The pouring ladle is extremely handy for small-mouthed bottles, the butter scraper can cut out beautiful pieces, or the scissors to cut quail eggs…

“The most special for me are the cast iron pots and porcelain bowls of a French brand. Or the gold-plated and silver-plated spoons and forks with porcelain inside the spoon. Its textures make me fall in love,” she said. This housewife shares.

For more than two years now, being passionate about kitchen utensils is a way for Thuy to rebalance her life. Her sharing of tips on handling old kitchenware and how to distinguish fakes, on groups in Vietnam and the US, received praise and thanks. What she did not expect is that thanks to the passion, the mother and daughter are now living well. The monthly income from selling used kitchenware is the same as when I was working at the company. In addition, she also has income from the take-out restaurant.

“I set a goal in the next 5 years to buy a house for mother and daughter, and then make shelves displaying all the kitchen tools that I consider treasures,” said the woman in her 40s. To share.

Part of Thuy’s cutlery collection.

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