While on my lunch break today in downtown Bethesda, I wandered around to catch Pokemon through Williams-Sonoma, because its doors were wide open, beckoning me to enter. I can't lie – it's one of my favorite places to browse. I love cooking, and while I'm generally content with the way in which my kitchen is equipped, when I'm in Williams-Sonoma, I fantasize about winning the lottery. As soon as I pose for the photo holding that big check, I will go straight to Williams-Sonoma and buy all-new gear, starting with an entire set of shiny, sturdy copper cookware. Including the fish poacher. (I would poach SO MUCH FISH if I had one of those.)
As is the case at most of their stores, there's a seasonally-decorated dining table as you walk into the store. Today's theme was, naturally, Thanksgiving, because it's never too soon to start planning. The sub-theme was turkeys. But not cartoon turkeys: REAL ones. Like this:
Right after I have them box up my new copper cookware, I'll gesture to the table and say, oh, why not – please wrap up everything on this table for me. I'll take it all: The tablecloth, the glasses, the chargers, the flatware, the holiday-themed china, the napkins, the serving pieces. Never mind the frivolity of having an entire coordinated table setting that you use only once a year (where do you store it?). Never mind that I have an entire set of my grandmother's china that works perfectly fine, and still gets used really only twice a year. It doesn't have turkeys on it. So that my guests don't somehow confuse the late-November meal with what's presented in December or late March, I need the subtle coding of turkey-themed dinnerware. That way, no one need risk embarrassment by asking questions that make it obvious that they just aren't paying attention.
In addition to the turkey dishes, the table setting in the store featured these, one at each place setting:
What are these? I wondered. Tiny copper soup kettles? Why don't they just put the soup in the white pumpkin tureen? Don't feel bad; I didn't know, either, that they had a name. But lest I reveal my own ignorance by asking a sales associate, I discreetly searched their website, where I learned that these are mini copper cocottes.
So adorable! As I touched every single thing on the table, I picked one up and flipped it over. The price tag said $129.95. I nearly choked on my Diet Coke. Over a hundred bucks for a wee, one-cup copper vessel??
Fear not, friends. While it was not obvious in the store, I learned on the website that that's the price for a set of four. And, the website lists them at 20% off. That makes them ONLY $104! For FOUR! Plus tax. But shipping is on the house.
I mean, they're practically paying you to take these.
Alas. If you're like me, that's probably a little bit more than you've allocated to your budget line item for frivolous servingware. But these clever retailers have somehow convinced me that I'm going to win the lottery I need a set of cocottes. So, I searched the website for something more affordable and landed upon the store-brand cast iron set of four, in red, for $74.99, discounted to $60:
My cooking skills are on point, but a trip through Williams-Sonoma inevitably makes me feel like I need to work on my dining table game. I mean, the feast just tastes better when everything matches, are you with me? And even more so when you serve your soup in miniature versions of high-end cookware. How novel! How… saucy!
I'd like to say I treated myself, but the truth is, I'm far too practical. I did not succumb to the strong urge for a payday impulse purchase.
I'm reminded of the wonderfully giggle-inducing parodies of my favorite purveyor of self-doubt high-end cookware. If you missed these Hater's Guides, please go read Adequate Man on Deadspin. Here's the 2015 version, and here is 2014. There are others, but I'm not going to spoonfeed you. You know how the internet works. You can find them. I promise, it's worth the effort.