Shopping: The thing about...Kitchen gadgets
Saturday 31 August 1996
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the gadgets mentioned so far; asparagus kettles cook the stalks without turning the spears to mush, home-made pasta is delicious, but many gadgets do not have even utility to recommend them. The Lakeland Plastics catalogue, spiritual home of kitchen clutter, is packed with preposterous ideas for complicating your life: grapefruit corer, butter melter, spoon rest, tea bag squeezer. Don't sneer; it could happen to you. One day, blood sugar falling, you will find yourself sending off for some superfluous whatsit. Your need for it, its very function will be forgotten before the package ever arrives. Years later a houseguest will be rummaging through your odds and sods drawer (an unholy jumble of swizzle sticks, dud corkscrews and birthday cake candles): "What the hell is this?" "Ah", you mumble "That's my caper spoon". "Your what?" Yes. Readers of the latest Lakeland Plastics catalogue are encouraged to wave goodbye to soggy caper misery with this handy spoon (pounds 2.95).
Once in a while a gadget enters your life and changes the way you cook and eat. The microwave is one such device, the breadmaker may well become another. You laugh. It's expensive (pounds 199) but it has none of the fiddle associated with other so-called labour savers. You don't have to faff about making dough or mixing custard: you put in the ingredients, shut the lid, press the button and four hours later your kitchen smells like Little House on the Prairie and there's a finished loaf of bread inside. I use mine every day. And no, you can't borrow it.
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