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Tuesday 9 September 2003

The role of the microwave in modern society [houmous]

I've never really thought about microwaves much. I've always had one of course (even I'm not that weird!) but they don't come on the radar of boys toys as far as I'm concerned, and since I avoid white goods stores like the plague I never get to see them in their natural habitat.
Anyway all this changed a few months ago while I was sitting on the toilet flicking through my 'Wallpaper' magazine, as you do, when I spot an advert for a microwave. An advert for a microwave in Wallpaper? What ever next! But this one was... nice. It was in stainless steel for a start, and it had what appeared to be a particularly attractive over engineered handle on the front. It was like heavy machinery. I felt a strange stirring in my loins like when you hear a motorbike or a steam train – this microwave had pressed a button somewhere deep within my masculine physcie...
The first effect of this semi religious experience is that I announce to Di that our current microwave (horrible white thing) is now 'out of date' and that I will be carrying out an exercise to ascertain the best one to replace it. Di is bemused pointing out the current one is fine and we only ever use it for defrosting and heating things up anyway ( apart from cooking my porridge in the morning which enables me to get up 5 mins later than when I used to do it in a saucepan).
I politely disagree and set about my research which included at one point discussing the merits of various models with a woman at Currys on my mobile while I was driving and then spotting an internet café while we are talking, pulling over and going in, and while still talking to her, calling up a picture of the one she was suggesting would met my needs – that’s modern living for you I guess! haha
The trouble I was having was that I had quickly ascertained that there had been a quiet revolution going on on the microwave front and that there were loads of stainless steel/aluminium ones.
This was giving me a problem until I saw something that, in an instant clarified every thing and I knew my destiny – the Panasonic top of the range microwaves had....CHAOS defrost! Now I didn't have clue what CHAOS defrost is (and I still don't) but that didn't matter..I felt an over whelming affinity with this, and indeed, wondered how I had managed this long without it.
Now there was now only one more hurdle. Though general enquiries and chatting in the pub etc I discovered that my mate (also Dr Dave – spooky!) had bought one with CHAOS defrost too! Without rousing suspicion I tactfully ascertained his model details and then got straight on the web. THANK GOD! THERE WAS A BETTER CHAOS MODEL THAN HIS! An order was immediately placed.
IÂ’m now the proud owner of this modern icon. Which brings me onto the next point. This microwave appears to be able to do everything - conventional cooking (what does it go out and get a take away for you then? haha), baking, some kind of half microwave half something else that makes it crispy on the top, it automatically works out the correct time to cook things etc etc.
Now this is the weird thing. If I buy, say, a pocket PC, a bit of hifi kit, or a new mobile I play for ages with everything on it, usually breaking something in the process – but I realised that I have (and still have) some kind of mental block with microwaves. Whenever I get one I flick through the instructions and think 'ooh yes I must try that fish dish' but, the truth never happens – we only ever use the microwave button! Is this a common occurrence or will you all be bombarding me with your recipes for your favourite 'sur de mer' dish with the special sauce?


  1. I tell you what my microwave made me realise. Well, that and my Sony television. It made me realise just how reliable basic electronic shit really is. It just keeps on chugging and just keeps working. Yet during that time, the massive upgrades and expense of computing just beggers belief.
    I've got some really shit white microwave that doesn't have any conventional stuff in it at all. It gets used to defrost stuff really. Missus does the odd baked potato. The door button is fucked, broken on one side and you have to monkey with it to get it to pop out so you can open the door. But it still works and has been going on strong for years and years.
    The Microwave hasn't turned out to be the whole cooking revolution it was made out really. The big downfall for me is that you have to put things in a box and it makes bits of things very hot, but you have to open the door and take the item out to stir it. You shove something on the stove, you can heat, stir and monkey about with spices and shit. Then there's the fact we make loads of spicy food in the wok, stir frying etc. Microwave doesn't really get much of a look in.
    I'd be quite interested in whether one of those combination ones can do anything useful. What sort of stuff can you really cook in them then? A chicken? A pie? What?
    If I actually upgraded my microwave, I'd buy one with a simple fucking dial on it. On my current one you have to fuck around dialing up the time on a wanky digital display with up/down buttons. Fuck that, I want slap shit in and set it going. So I reckon I'm gonna end up buying a £50 one or something :)

  2. I've got a fannytastic one, given as a gift. It'll work as a mircrowave, a fan oven or a combination of both. What does it get used for? Fucking defrosthing shit, heating up baby food and doing baked potatoes. I even do my pots in the microwave, then bake them in the oven for ten mins to make em taste nice? Why? Dunno. I'm a reasonable cook, I can make the most of other applicances, I just somehow don't trust the microwave to actually bake. I don't like the idea of that little box sitting on the top getting hot like the big fuckoff oven. I also don't actually know how to operate the oveny bit, where I can operate our conventional oven just fine.
    It's a swizz I tell you. I do quite fancy a CHAOS defroster though, oooh.

  3. Although my Ex was a complete BB she was also a bloody good chef. She has a grill/oven/microwave combo thing and trust me she cooks just about everything in it (minus of course wok/griddle type foods).
    I've seen her produce things as simple as jackets to full roast dinners. It managed to trip itself out once and took about a week for the repair man to come round, you should of heard the language coming from the kitchen during that week. 'Fucking normal oven, takes so fucking long to heat up', 'We're getting take out tonight, I can't be fucked to wait for the grill to get hot enough' and 'FFS, I only want to bake a garlic bread not feed and army'.
    Her conventional oven is spotless, I have seen her use it rarely and generally only when feeding more than 2. If she could get a larger model that could take whole turkeys plus veg, spuds etc then she could do away with the old oven.
    The hob though, thats a different story all together.

  4. Oooh look what I found! Something on how chaos defrost works in microwaves!


  5. After 27 years cooking in a family kitchen with a very old gas stove and nothing 'modern' except an electric kettle my mother-in-law died and none of the other sisters in laws wanted her microwave (that old thing!) - It took me almost a yr to get it working but after that I started to dream... of a combi!!! Well it took another 8 yrs but when I finally got one my husband and I were of an age of be watching electric/gas bills and the combi came into its own. We have a normal overn too but on a day to day basis the combi can do most things. Now it has itself 'died' and I am looking at all the improvement in technology and yes, 'chaos defrost' sounds exciting (as my age it doesn't take much), and 'panacrunch pans' and even shelves in microswaves..... Oh for a bigger budget. Use your microwave - if only to save on electric bills!