Toad in the Hole

April 25, 2006

A Rare Medium Well-Done

Anyone who's gone riffling through all my Flickr photos might be wondering what this one was all about:


We were cruising Urban Ore a couple months ago, I suppose because I was writing a Daily Planet piece about it. There are always a few old classic Wedgewood and O'Keefe & Merritt and such stoves there, and they make me salivate. Gas stoves are more easily and reliably rehabbed than electric ones, I suppose, and anyway are more worth it. I love the ones that have warming ovens and covers that flip up to be warming shelves and matching salt and pepper shakers and all those bells and whistles. And that sound like a Mercedes-Benz when you close the oven doors, that soft authoritative whump.

Urban Ore is worth an occasional trip just to see what weird, gorgeous, or incredible thing has landed there recently. We have a red-and-multicolor wool coat on the parlor wall; it looks handwoven and we think it's Afghani. It doesn't quite fit me (which is why it's on the wall) but I couldn't resist it when I was there over a decade ago looking for used lumber, and it cost me well under $10 -- maybe $8 or so.

So, on top of one of those fancy stoves, last time, was this roast. Not a real roast, of course, but something hollow, crafted out of um buckram? -- some stiffened cloth amalgam stuff. And plastered a bit and painted. What I wondered was what I wonder about many things I see there: What was this for originally? Part of the backdrop knickknackery in a hofbrau? Stage prop? Vegetarians' scarecrow?

Twenty-some years ago, just after we'd moved into the place before this one, we got a few pieces of junk mail intended for the previous tenant. One was a catalogue of fake food, all of it that cast-plastic stuff you see in the windows of sushi joints. Only this wasn't all Japanese food; there were Mexican and fast-food USA and spaghetti and meatballs and stuff like that too. It was a bit eerie.

Eerier still was a free-with-order offer on the back page: You could get a cube representing two pounds of human fat. It was shiny and yellowish and did indeed look like human fat, only in a cube. (Why yes, I have seen some.) I suppose that was a scare object of sorts too, but all I could think of was The Merchant of Venice: "A pound of flesh ... nearest the heart."

Too bad we were broke. I'm not sure what I'd've done with an order of vinyl (or whatever) food anyway, once I had it. Chew for a very long time, maybe.

Posted at April 25, 2006 12:57 AM


urban ore sure is fun!

Posted by: kathy a at April 25, 2006 02:43 PM

Ron, I'm enjoying meandering through your blog, and I am a wacky fan of those marvelous old stoves. One thing I used to like about ours was "stove temperature" spaghetti. When my grandmother made any kind of pasta for dinner and one of us wasn't home for the servings fresh out of the pot, she'd put the leftovers in a Corningware dish with a little bit of extra sauce and meat (if there was any), cover it with the matching glass lid, and then leave it on the back of the stovetop for the late one. I don't know why, but it was always wonderful, and it seems that you can't really recreate it any other way. I've tried a variety of methods, but nothing is ever quite right. Thanks for a charming post.

Posted by: Annie at April 29, 2006 04:05 AM