Steatite, due to its malleability and resistance, has been used from time immemorial. It seems to have been employed since the Bronze Age, not as cookware but to make moulds for bronze casting. Later on it was used by several cultures to manufacture jars for storing oils. Its use in the manufacturing of pots by the ancient Reti civilization is mentioned by Ovid, who called them “lebetes” in Latin. This term became the Italic word “lavet” and then the modern Italian “laveggio”.
This soapstone cookware, mostly hooped with copper or wrought iron, was extensively used by families in northern Italy, often as the only piece of cookware, to cook almost any food, such as milk or game, soups or puddings. Soapstone cookware has been produced on a fairly larger scale in northern Italy since the late Middle Age, mainly in the Valtellina area, where near Prosto still exists the ancient quarry of Piuro. The “laveggi” made by local craftsmen were widely renowned and even exported to neighboring regions.
At the time of Colonial Brazil this heritage came to the region of Ouro Preto, in the State of Minas Gerais, where skilled craftsmen keep alive the ancient tradition of making soapstone cookware: a wholly natural product that even nowadays, due to its unique features, stays an ideal cooking tool.