Can handmade cookware make food taste better? According to Food & Wine’s Mouthing Off blog, cookbook author and Moroccan food expert Paula Wolfert “swears by cooking with clay,” while Deborah Madison waxes poetic about clay pots on Gourmet’s site:
My micaceous pot gives off the scent of minerals and earth when heated, and it cooks foods evenly and beautifully.
I can’t really say with any kind of proof why these foods seem to taste better than if they were cooked in more conventional pots, but I know that I enjoy the process more—the light feel of the clay and the soft sounds utensils make when they come in contact with the rim of a pot. I also just like to have the pots out where I can see them, because their shapes and colors are so enjoyable to look at.
Madison speaks of Felipe Ortega’s gorgeous handmade pottery, which can be purchased on his website or by contacting Café Pasqual’s Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico—but at $100 per quart plus shipping and handling, these pieces are pricey. For an inexpensive intro to clay pot cooking, check out Tagines, which carries a $28 hand-shaped clay tagine (which I own and love) as well as $28 cazuelas and $8 tagras, which work well as baking dishes.