We live in a country where costume dramas are inescapable, but I’m struck by the way they don’t really dwell on the levels of hard work and drudgery for the majority of the people portrayed – the staff. It’s not too surprising, I suppose; it’s difficult to build scintillating drama around a few hours spent kneading bread or chopping onions.
Happily, nowadays we have gadgets rather than staff. And so I started to wonder: if I was magically presented with an empty flat and a suitable budget, what gadgets and kitchen equipment would make the cut, and what would I not bother with? To me, the essentials are coffee, toast, and soup, so my list is kettle, toaster, coffee grinder, espresso machine, stick blender. Life without coffee and toast is unthinkable, and soup is a common occurrence around here, especially at lunchtimes (BH – before H – I used to exist on lots ready made chilled soup).
I don’t really use Fifi the stand mixer, or even the hand mixer much for my own cooking, as I’m not really one for cooking for fun – H is the one who’s far more likely to rustle up a batch of biscuits. Her list would be different from mine: the stand mixer would be far higher up the list, as her wrists don’t really get on with kneading, and for making things like marshmallows, it’s essential.
For my parents, on the other hand, I would think that their breadmaker is the third most used device in the kitchen, after the kettle and the toaster. On the list of things we don’t have, but would actually prove useful, is a small chopper/food processor for H – between the stand mixer and blender, we don’t really use the full size one much, and for me, a small battery vacuum cleaner (it’s just all too rock and roll round here).
But a balance does have to be made. While browsing kitchen shops or perusing catalogues can amaze me with the range of stuff that’s available, having 101 gadgets that get used once a year would drive me mad, not least because we have limited storage space. It would be interesting to know how often cupcake makers are actually used. Or are they the modern equivalent of the sandwich toaster, used three times before being banished to the back of the cupboard, never to see the light of day again?
A very satisfying way of spending some time at the weekend is to delve into those dark recesses in the cupboards, find what has been stuffed there out of sight and out of mind, and clear it out with the help of freecycle or eBay. Now, I’m sure there’s a pasta machine somewhere…
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