One of my cousins has a close friend who is a gourmet cook. When this friend retired, she began working part time at a Williams Sonoma store so that she could get the discount on their goods. Boy, did she get her money’s worth. She not only bought all possible cookware and accoutrement – from pizzelle maker on up – she also stockpiled all sorts of William Sonoma products to give as shower, wedding, birthday, and anniversary gifts. When you went into this women’s basement, it was literally like going into a warehouse: boxes upon William Sonoma boxes, stacked to the ceiling. There was a walkway to the washer and dryer, but other than that every square inch – make that every cubic inch of space – was taken up. Think extreme hoarding, minus the mess and the cockroaches.
I actually like a lot of what William Sonoma sells. But a little of it goes a fairly long way, in my book, errrr, catalog.
Anyway, somewhere along the line, my sister Trish stumbled across a very funny piece by Deadspin’s Drew Magary, “The 2016 Hater’s Guide to the William Sonoma Catalog.” One of my favorite bits was his take on the $400 fondue set.
Copy: “Family fondue party! Gather the gang for a festive fondue party… just melt, dip, and enjoy!”
Drew says: Oh, you think it’s that easy, do you? You listen to me, you shameless fonduemongers: There’s a reason no fondue pot on Earth has been used since 1988. Fondue is a complete pain in the ass. I have three small children. You really think it’s a good idea for me to hand them very sharp forks and then put a fucking CAULDRON of boiling hot cheese on the table, within their reach? Are you fucking insane? I still have scars on my arm from The Great Beef Fondue Incident Of ’85 at my parents’ house.
Well, that about says it all. Yet I do have a certain fondness for the notion of fondue, which was all the rage as a shower and wedding present when I was getting out of college and going to showers and weddings. My last fondue purchase was c. 1971, and I think that I spent $19.95 for a fondue set at Jordan Marsh as a shower gift for a friend. I may have gone in on it with someone else.
And I also did attend some enjoyable fondue parties – especially those that bagged the cheese and meat stuff and went with melted chocolate and fruit. Yet I get what Magary says about the sharp forks, and the CAULDRON of boiling hot cheese. That’s why we used to give them as wedding shower and wedding gifts. In those days, people getting married didn’t have toddlers.
My favorite item from the Hater’s Guide, however, was the $380 Le Creuset tartan plaid Dutch oven. They also offer a tartan plaid covered baking dish, tartan plaid table settings, and a tartan plaid knife.
Now, I happen to have a Le Creuset Dutch oven, a gift from my sister Kath, which I love. (And whom I love, of course.) Le Creuset is heavy, so I wouldn’t want all of my cookware to be Le Creuset. Yet it’s both beautiful – the colors it comes in are gorgeous – and it’s really good for cooking the sort of stuff even a non-cook might make in a Dutch oven. Like pasta dishes.
And I like tartan plaid as well as the next guy.
In fact, at this very minute, my dining room table is covered with a red and green tartan plaid table cloth, courtesy of my sister Kath who no longer needed or wanted it, and gave it to me this past Thanksgiving.
I’m delighted to have it.
While the red and green of Christmas don’t exactly go with my blue, orange, and cream decor, they are, well, Christmas-y colors. And red and green tartan and Christmas go together like Prancer and Vixen, like Rudolph and Rednose.
Yet the thought of a tartan plaid Dutch oven pretty much turns me into a William Sonoma hater, too.
Too much of a good thing. Too much of a perfect home, perfect furniture, perfect decorations, perfect husband, perfect kids. Everything that’s not from William Sonoma comes from Pottery Barn. Martha Stewart helps decorate the cookies. And because tartan is so tied to Christmas, you’re rich enough to swap out your cookware seasonally. Sheesh.
Kind of makes me want to take that tartan plaid knife and stab a W-S catalog…