Tony Bourdain was recently in Penang, Malaysia enjoying street fare with a guide. The guide, a woman, looked to be around late 40s, early 50s. She seemed very wise, with a fun sense of humor. They watched a street vendor cooking a blazing stirfry in a time-seasoned wok. The guide said these woks are heirlooms, very prized and highly valued. They can be over a century old and are handed down from family member to family member.
They’re prized because they’re old. The new ones don’t cook the same. They can’t take the heat. You have to cook more carefully with a new one because if left unsupervised it will burn the meal. On the other hand, the old ones cook evenly and they tend to caramelize the food, adding their own extra layer of flavor.