This is a charlotte pan. When I brought it home from my year of study abroad in France, I thought I was going to use it in my new life as a French Midwesterner.
Over 18 years, I packed and unpacked and made space for the charlotte pan in five different places, including one with a kitchen so small I almost had to sidestep out in order to turn around.
The charlotte pan’s last home, in a kitchen cupboard up by the ceiling, was shared with an angel food pan, a roasting pan, two sizes of loaf pans, a muffin tin and two mini muffin tins, two round cake pans, a heart-shaped cake pan, two covered 9 x 12 cake pans (one a sweet gift from my uncle that says “From the kitchen of Ellen Tveit”!), and a springform pan. Most of that bakeware is lucky to get used biennially, but the charlotte pan distinguished itself by having never been used on American soil. Not once.
So I finally gave it away. And now that it’s gone I can easily see that holding onto it had nothing to do with keeping cherished memories alive or credentialing myself as a one-time French speaker. It was just a habit.
Cleaning out the rest of that cupboard is going to be more difficult. I’ll have to be honest with myself about how much cooking and baking I’m really going to do—which is not the same as how much I think I should be doing, or how much I used to think I wanted to do.
What’s your charlotte pan?