The Luxury of Limestone
Because of the way copper warms up quickly and evenly distributes heat, it has been the preferred metal of cookware for hundreds of years. There are no hot spots within the pots that can burn or scorch food during cooking.
James Peterson, chef and author of Glorious French Food uses copper pots for three important reasons: food rarely burns, the metal is so lovely the meal can be cooked and served in the same pot, and most copper cookware will last a lifetime. "You can keep your copper pots your entire life, because they are virtually indestructible," he says.
Peterson offers suggestions for cooks looking to purchase copper cookware:
- Make sure the pots have iron handles rather than brass because they do not get as hot. This is also a sign that they are made for professionals and not just for decoration.
- Find pots that are oval or unique shapes because they are attractive and can be used to serve the food.
Interior decorator Lee Tripi of Lee Tripi Interiors in Raleigh, N.C., adores the warmth copper can add to a kitchen. "As a designer of kitchens, I use copper quite often as a surface for countertops and backsplashes," he says. "Copper used as a kitchen surface is warm and inviting, where stainless steel can sometimes feel cold and industrial. It can be polished to maintain the natural color or lacquered to avoid polishing. Copper can also be left to patina a Verde finish that oxidation produces to naturally protect the metal."
Appliance manufacturers claim copper will soon replace most stainless steel. How does stainless steel compare to copper? Just ask Mary Whitesides, designer and author of Mountain Style (Gibbs Smith, 2004). "The comparison is as hard is to soft, as cool is to warm, as smooth is to texture," she says. "Copper invites you to touch, to gather, to mingle and to create in the kitchen. It invites you to linger, and it is an eye elixir."
When Whitesides photographed several homes for her book Desert Style (Gibbs Smith, 2003), she was delighted to find copper in kitchens. Whitesides came away from the experience with respect for this newest trend.
When it comes to windows in homes with copper, Whitesides has a few suggestions.
"There is no finish on the copper so it will age naturally," she says. "Therefore, blinds should have an aged, natural look." She feels wooden blinds are an obvious pick, but should not be too dark as the color will downplay the copper and make it look dull. Wooden shutters with an antique finish would be harmonious in copper-inspired kitchens.
To keep the windows simple and less distracting from the real beauty of copper, there are other options. "A café curtain in a vintage fabric can look beautiful," Whitesides says. "The fabric is key and should have the warmth and nostalgia of Old World Europe. As for a more modern appearance, the clean simple lines of a Roman shade complement the simplicity of copper accessories." Any of these window dressings will not compete with the beauty of copper.
Tripi also has a few ideas for accessorizing windows in copper kitchens. "In a more modern, urban kitchen, window coverings may not be needed at all," he says. "But if the client desires window coverings for privacy, I suggest roll shades made of vinyl or acryl-coated fiberglass screen." For homeowners who prefer something decorative rather than functional, she recommends bamboo shades or vertically hung beads.
Accessorize With Copper
Copper is taking over the appliance industry. The Classic Oster Beehive Blender has been updated with a sleek copper finish. Moen has also launched a new line of copper faucets for the kitchen and bath. Several appliance companies are working with ideas for copper appliances that may soon replace stainless steel.
Although there are several manufacturers of copper cookware, a leader is Mauviel Cuprinox. Their cookware has a thickness of 2.0 mm of copper, stainless steel interior and cast iron handles. They have a huge variety of pots and pans. Another manufacturer that has many lovely styles to choose from is Chelsea Kitchen. This company has a Web site that offers recipes, cooking ideas and suggestions for caring for your copper cookware. For more information on these products check out: http://www.coppercookware.com/.