The Outdoor Retailer show comes to SLC twice a year, bringing hordes of GoreTex-clad hawkers to pump up the downtown economy. The Salt Palace literally overflows into nearby parking lots and streets where vendors set up regiments of cool new tents, bicycles, packs and outdoor-oriented fashion.

Up to a certain point, the show is all about technology and how it's enhancing and making safer our outdoor experiences. But part of it is as much about look as function: "Tobacco and saffron are key this year!"

And as much about point-of-view as look:

OR isn't just about goods; it's about a culture.

Of course, as usual, I'm interested in a particular part of that culture: the food. And there were plenty of new flavors of Clif bars and other pocket meals on display.

But alongside all the super-lightweight food-for-function junk were some old-time heavyweights for those of us who can't imagine camping without a decent frying pan.

Lodge cast iron cookware has been around since 1866 years, making indestructible skillets and Dutch ovens for those who eat seriously in the outdoors.

Or indoors. My mother bought me a Lodge iron skillet when I went to college nearly 40 years ago. Part of the Essential Equipment for Leaving Home, along with a copy of Strunk & White andplenty of sox.

I used that skillet for everything from toasting marijuana to heating up spaghetti sauce to cooking cracked wheat, depending on which stage my evolving alternative lifestyle was in. I still have it.

For a long time I kept a second one on the floor of the back seat of my car.

You know, in case of emergency. As a kid, family camping in Colorado, my mother handed my brother an iron skillet when a bear was sniffing around our garbage cans. To bang on and to wield if necessary, I suppose.

Anyway, Lodge was going strong in the Salt Palace yesterday, besides their Le Creuset-like enamel-coated line, there's a new pre-seasoned carbon steel line

and a group of small, personal-sized frying pans and bakers that have become chef favorites, as you know, they hold their heat.