Mermaids, Chips, Baked beans and Sausage Rolls, could life get any better…?


 

A Postscript from last week’s email
There's a postscript to my last email to start off, because on Saturday morning I got a call from one of my oldest friends, Francis Benson, who I met at Carshalton Technical College (the year after leaving school) and it was this place that he wanted to talk about, for reasons that will become apparent. Anyway, he rang me and said he'd just read that morning’s email, and felt I'd left something out of my story, about my school days, and this concerned him. To put a context to this he and I have remained very close as friends ever since, even though we sometimes go years without speaking to each other, and I say this so you realise that I put great store by his thought processes and his opinion. When we do speak, we pick up as if we'd spoken only the week before.
 
He was gently taking me to task for leaving my one bit of education out of my story last week. And he was quite correct to do so, in fact, because it was the place that he and I had met, which was for me an eye opener. We both ended up at Carshalton Tech to improve our O level results. And it was here that I met teachers who actually cared about what they were teaching, were enthusiastic for their subject and along with the absence of bullies and the presence of friends...some of them girls, made the whole thing feel like a walk in the park on a beautiful spring day. So, for instance I had an English teacher who taught me how to write an essay about anything, anything at all...Before she showed me the thought process to go through to achieve this, I hadn't realised I had any capability for lateral thought at all...how wonderful was that? We had Mr Smale, who rode a huge Sunbeam 350cc motorbike, who was an archetypal Sociology teacher who opened our narrow Surrey born and bred eyes to social issues, many of which I'd never heard of, let alone come across first hand.
 
This was a wonderful place to be. It was exciting, it was real education and it connected with me in way that my previous three schools just hadn't. So, for prompting me to finish the story, I'm most grateful to Francis for gently arguing his corner, he can be a persuasive fellow. At the same time, I'm going to maintain my time at school was a waste of my time. My time at Carshalton wasn’t school, it was the complete opposite, even the chips, sausage rolls, and baked beans were heavenly…don’t think I could pay it a greater compliment!
 
Old Friends Return in the form of Mermaid.
This year at the Exclusively Housewares show, at the Camden Business Centre, we spotted that Samuel Groves, the company that makes the Mermaid Range of Hard Anodised bakeware and Roasting Pans were back (actually we spotted them last year as well, but with all that was going on with Babette, I never got round to following up on this). Happily, this year we’ve been a bit more proactive and eventually the stock was coded, and it’s now arrived.
 
So why are they old friends? Well up until 7 or 8 years ago, we’d been stocking Mermaid since time immemorial.

 


Of late though they’ve had a bit of a chequered history and a few years ago the company got into trouble and as a result I think they got bought up by someone and somehow we stopped trading. So now it’s wonderful to be trading with them again and to have them back in stock.
 
Mermaid pans, like the Silverwood range of bakeware, are made from “Anodised” aluminium which is a wonderfully fast and even spreader of heat (this is really important for any cookware). And anodising broadly speaking comes in two forms, Silver Anodised (if you’re familiar with Silverwood then you will know the sort of finish and performance you get) and Hard Anodised which is the same material, but which is left in the anodising bath for longer and as a result goes from being silver to dark grey colour. And importantly the thickness of the anodising goes from approx. 5 microns (Silver) to 50 microns (Hard) and, as the name suggests, gets harder. In fact, hard anodised aluminium is significantly harder than, say, stainless steel.
When I used to work in the shops, to demonstrate my point, I’d take a 2p piece and try to scratch the anodising off with edge of the coin, to show how hard it was. All I ever succeeded in doing was leaving a flat bit, on the edge of the coin. So, when I say hard, that is what I mean. This makes the cleaning of a pan much easier as you don’t have to worry about removing the coating by accident. If something is well and truly burnt onto the pan, you can happily use wire wool to bring it back to looking like new again. Tough old stuff hard anodising, and if you are concerned about the use of aluminium in your cookware, then the anodising layer (anodic layer) is a barrier between your food and the raw aluminium.
 
Incidentally because they are made of aluminium they make very good defrosting trays, reducing thawing time considerably.
 
So, what will damage Hard Anodising
Well, firstly if you cut on it with a knife or pizza wheel, (for this, read anything with a sharp, fine edge) you may well damage it, cutting through to the aluminium below, and secondly if you put Silver or Hard Anodised pieces in the dishwasher you will remove or damage the very expensive anodising, sometimes despatching it in one fell swoop!
 
The main points in bullet form
So, Mermaid pans:

  • Good even heat distribution
  • Very fast heat distribution
  • Easy to clean generally (and you maybe be brutal with it (Hard Anodised) if needs be, there’s no non-stick coating to damage)
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Double as defrosting trays. Aluminium acts as a heat sink. Very effective
  • And it actually will probably outlast you. We have 4 or 5 pieces at home that are 25-30 years old…no signs of wear yet.

 

What will stop this happy scenario from coming to pass:

  • Cutting on the pan with a knife or pizza wheel.
  • Putting them in a dish washer.
  • Not induction compatible.
  • And it’s probably best to not store fruit pies (or any food which is high in acidity) in them for long, as the acids in apples, say, will attack the anodising.

 
 
There are three models, in three sizes, some of which are in two finishes.
There are the roasters in 12”, 14” and 16” sizes (and the sizes I shall quote are their length). Not a lot to say about a roaster, other than these are pretty substantial bits of kit and whilst very solid they but are also pretty light and have sensible handles built into the design.

Then there are the baking trays, which have very shallow sides. These are particularly good for roasting veg as the hot air in the oven hasn’t got to fight with the high sides (of a roaster) to be able to brown your vegetables. Lots of other uses for these as well, but thought I’d point this out, as it may not have been obvious to you. They also come in the same three sizes as the roasters. On top of that we also do Silver Anodised versions, which are a bit cheaper.


Whether that’s a wise choice or not, I think depends on what you’re going to use it for. If there’s high temperature work in the oven then maybe you should stick with the hard anodised version for ease of cleaning (Don’t use wire wool on Silver Anodised finishes, you will damage them). If you’ve got a gas, or conventional electric hob, then I’d again suggest hard anodised.

Then there are the baking trays, which have very shallow sides. These are particularly good for roasting veg as the hot air in the oven hasn’t got to fight with the high sides (of a roaster) to be able to brown your vegetables. Lots of other uses for these as well, but thought I’d point this out, as it may not have been obvious to you. They also come in the same three sizes as the roasters. On top of that we also do Silver Anodised versions, which are a bit cheaper.


Whether that’s a wise choice or not, I think depends on what you’re going to use it for. If there’s high temperature work in the oven then maybe you should stick with the hard anodised version for ease of cleaning (Don’t use wire wool on Silver Anodised finishes, you will damage them). If you’ve got a gas, or conventional electric hob, then I’d again suggest hard anodised.

 

Lastly there are the same three sizes of Flat Baking Sheet 12”, 14” and 16” in either Silver Anodised or Hard Anodised finishes.

These are very serious pieces indeed and despite being Aluminium, are very thick and really quite heavy….Lovely!


And these are all made in Britain. 


So, we are well stocked on these three lines and this weekend I’m offering 10% off one piece (use code MERMAID10) and 20% off two or more pieces (no need for a code, the discount will be calculated automatically at checkout). 
 


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.