People, seriously, I’m begging you. Help me out here. Tell me, is there something wrong with your stove? Do the burners no longer work? Does the oven no longer turn chicken a crispy golden brown and blacken the rosemary fronds you’ve shoved under the skin before rubbing it with a garlic clove and covering it with kosher salt? Does your broiler no longer crisp the cheese perfectly on a bagel slice you’ve first buttered and then loaded up with parmesan?
Because if your stove is broken, or you don’t have a stove (dorm residents should just exclude themselves from the rest of this post, probably), I can understand. But if your stove is in working order, at least one burner fires up and the oven roasts and the broiler broils, why in God’s name are you buying one of these?
An electric wok. Sweet chocolate Jesus on a pecan-encrusted waffle cone, an electric wok. Why? A $2,200 espresso machine, okay, if it also scrubs your toilet, but I’m a coffee geek, so I do get expensive coffee toys even if I don’t own any myself. A toaster, harder for me to understand but fine, if you don’t want to sit there and turn the bread over after 30 seconds in the broiler, fine. Even a microwave, because you’re busy. But an electric WOK?
My hatred of kitchen gadgets began after we moved to our house, which has a tiny kitchen. It’s bright and has a huge porcelain sink and opens to the outdoors, which was my deal-breaker, but it has less than no counter space. Cabinets up the wazoo, but no counter space at all. And we had, at the time, every single electric convenience kitchen gadget known to man.
We’d registered for all this stuff before our wedding and in our last apartment, which had a kitchen like an airplane hanger with a countertop you could set a buffet for 20 on (which we did, more than once), we displayed all of it and used the breadmaker and the toaster oven and the shake machine. I loved the waffle iron and the George Foreman grill. We used the blender for margaritas all the goddamn time. But now? No counter space. Every inch we used up for the microwave or the huge coffeemaker was an inch I didn’t have to roll out my grandmother’s famous pie crust on, and people, grandma’s pie crust is not negotiable.
Most of the stuff we just stashed away, because we do still need the blender and like the waffle iron. The microwave was the first thing to go. Down into storage. I heated up day-after coffee on the stovetop (it’s already gross, it won’t get any worse just by being a little scorched) and put leftovers in the oven to toast. I chucked our set of about 400 different-sized skillets that had begun to shed their Teflon into our food and bought one big, heavy, kill-a-man-with-it pan and one medium-sized saucepan, and I dump cold pasta into them and push it around until it’s warm again. I have two spatulas, a slotted spoon, three solid wooden ones and a funky fork-thing to pull capellini out of the water.
The toaster oven I brought into the animal shelter because the volunteers like to make sandwiches. The coffee machine went up into a cabinet the day I got my grandfather’s old stovetop percolator. Yes, I know, it’s doing bad things to the coffee. It tastes really good. Shuddup. The toaster went down into storage, too; I broil the stuff now and it’s not efficient, but it’s nice to have the counterspace back again. I use the pasta machine all the goddamn time, but that’s the extent of my gadgetry.
Every single time I got rid of something I thought I’d miss it terribly. Life without the microwave? Eh. Every time I got rid of something I found that it was easier, and most of the time faster, to just make it myself without assistance. And that’s when the absurdity of most of these kitchen gadgets began to become apparent.
A quesadilla maker? It’s called a pan and a spatula. Choppers? Get a sharp knife (ONE knife, not a set) and use it until you stop hacking half your knuckles off whenever you dice. What the fuck do you need a panini press for? Butter the sandwich, take a skillet, put the fucking sandwich in it, press down. Turn over, repeat. Rotisserie? C’mon, you’ll use it what, once a year? E-mail me and I’ll send you my father-in-law’s recipe for beer-can chicken, it’s the same goddamn thing. And unless you have food allergies or some other medical condition, why are you juicing your own oranges with the Super Mega Power Juicer 2000? The stuff in the store doesn’t taste THAT bad.
And the electric wok? Does it have sex with you? I mean it, does it come to you dressed in a leather French maid’s outft and tell you you’re powerful? Because otherwise what on earth is suddenly so wrong with just getting a regular wok, putting it on your stovetop and sticking some shrimp and rice noodles in it?
Now, go on, tell me the kitchen gadget you can’t live without, that proves my Luddite existence is short-sighted and wrong.