My husband almost spit out his espresso (just almost though because the man doesn't dare waste good espresso) when I told him the price of our Lacanche range. In my mind it was simple. I would be buying a stove instead of a car.
Sure, a car is helpful when you need to go places, haul groceries, or… ya know… get to the emergency room or something. But I have a car already. It isn't fancy – it's a bare bones Suburban that's doubled as a farm truck for many moons. It's seen cars seats, toddlers, baby animals, and hay bales. It's a bit rough around the edges, the engine eats oil, and the body is a bit damaged from a few farm run-ins.
She ain't polished.
But still – when it came down to it, I decided to keep the ‘ol girl. She'll serve our family until she can no longer trudge down the road.
I'd made up my mind.
That was three years ago now. I had to work hard and save up so we could pay cash for the big purchase – but we did it. And after six months of waiting for the build of our custom range, and paying an astronomical amount to get the propane piped into the kitchen, Madame Lacanche was finally settled into the kitchen in all her glory.
(Diclaimer: A baller stove won't make you a baller homecook, but it sure doesn't hurt. The tool is only as good as the craftsman but dang if having the right tool doesn't really help.)
We don't live too far out from town – just about 20 minutes. But whenever we need to run errands, eat tacos, pickup feed, or meet friends we call it “going to town”. These errands, dates, and weekly church usually means we “go to town” about four times a week.
Do you know how many times I use my stove a week? 261.
No, stop, I can hear what you're saying. I'm not being dramatic. Between the bread baking, the broth boiling, and vegetable roasting, the bacon frying, the soup simmering, the doughnut frying, and the pasta boiling my Lacanche range is used all day – every day.
Since I began posting photographs of Madame online, I've received quite a few emails from readers. “Must be nice…” they murmur in their emails – as if I'm a rich aristocrat who can't possibly understand how the peasants live.
Here's the truth: I made the trade. You don't have to. But I did.
I bought a stove instead of a car.
But it doesn't stop there: I buy real maple syrup instead of cable television. I buy fresh olive oil instead of getting my nails done. I buy real Parmesan in a large chunk (yes, it's expensive) instead of going to the movies. We live in a modest-sized house that we've built up with sweat equity so that I have wiggle room in the budget for pomegranates and saffron.
With every purchase, every way we chose to spend the money we've worked for, we make a trade: this instead of that. I prioritize food – the food I love to eat. Foraged mushrooms. Oysters. Sea salt. Artichokes. Dried fruits. Whole grains. Cultured butter. Speciality olives. Meat. All the cheese. Dry Farm wine.
You may prioritize something else: sports, travel, fashion, home decor, shopping, what-ev. (Honestly, I had a hard time even coming up with that list. What DO people spend their time and money on besides food? I'm so confused. Maybe I don't actually know how the other half lives…).
So, yes, it is nice. It's nice to live in a country where we can grow our business by doing something we love (teaching other people how to cook, eat, and celebrate from-scratch food!), use that money on what we choose to prioritize, and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
It's also nice to be clear and unapologetic about who we are: we are farmers and homecooks who love to eat.
And apparently I just love to eat way more than I love to drive a fancy car.
That's a trade I'm happy to make.