“Hang on. You have to turn the right hand knob anti-clockwise then push the third button on the right – BLEEEP! – no, wait a minute, try the second button – BLEEEP!”
As many of you are probably aware, we have recently had a new kitchen installed, a process so traumatising that it can only be referred to as ‘The K Word’. The opening quote comes from Lady Barton St Mary, trying to help me turn on the grill in our new combination oven/microwave.
You see, having all these new, fantastic kitchen appliances that can perform a multitude of tasks is a great advancement on our previous kitchen, which consisted of a four ring hob that had three working hot plates, all of which had two settings: 1) Is it on? and 2) Sh*t it’s burnt. The oven was equally lethargic, having lost its light a long time ago (I sort of empathised with it at times) and being held together with congealed meat fats and charcoal.
But now we are really cutting edge. We have paralytic ovens, apparently, that can clean themselves by heating up to incredible temperatures; so incredible that all the gunk, fat and oily debris screams, gives up and flops to the floor of the oven to be collected into a bag and disposed of. I’m wondering whether we could offer a crematory service for deceased gerbils, hamsters and small cats. I would offer a full crematory service, but I don’t own a chainsaw. Somehow I don’t think Lady BSM will stand for this.
We now have something called an ‘induction hob’ that is touch controlled, programmable and has individual timers on each ‘hot plate,’ which is effectively a picture of a hotplate on a piece of dark glass. When a special pan is placed on the hob, it makes a strange buzzing noise as it heats the pan. This buzzing noise and the subtle awareness of heat remind me of my vasectomy, but that’s another story.
There’s only one problem with all our new appliances. We don’t really know how to use them. This means that I will have to take a degree in kitchenology, specialising in appliascience.
“Just read the instruction manual,” said Lady BSM.
The manual is 32 pages long. It’s full of tables, diagrams and instructions and half of it is in German. The induction hob has just angrily bleeped at me and flashed a code I’ve never seen before. F99! I desperately look through the manual, but there is no code F99. What does it mean? I’ve placed the potatoes in the pan in the wrong order? I’m wearing an unauthorised pinny? I’ve spent too much time with the dishwasher and it’s jealous?
So, rather than spend time studying the manual, I continue to prod and poke the induction hob like an ill trained chimp, hoping to get a decently cooked tea out of it. Maybe the chimp analogy could work. Every time I push the right button, the drawer could open and give me a reward (liquorice, wasabi nut, can of beer).
It’s the same story with the ovens. One can cook at two different temperatures at the same time, turn itself on or off and clean itself (see above). The other one is a combination oven, which means that it can be a normal oven or a microwave oven, depending on which buttons you prod and knobs that you turn. Lady BSM had worked out how to use it as a microwave, but one evening we wanted to grill something. I didn’t know how to turn the grill on.
I turned one knob; BLEEP! I poked a button that had a picture of an oil can next to it; then turned the knob to an icon that appeared to represent the top set of teeth of a crocodile in the rain; BLEEP! The digital clock display disappeared to be replaced by the legend ‘C6-1’. I looked inside the oven to make sure it had a grill. It did. I surrendered and asked for Lady BSM’s assistance. What followed was the conversation at the beginning of this blog. We finally made it after 10 minutes. Lady BSM triumphantly pushed ‘start’. Nothing happened. We closed the oven door. It started.
However, the next time I want to use the grill function I have a suspicion we’ll return to twisting knobs and pushing buttons like an enthusiastic baby with an activity centre.
Unless I can motivate myself to retire to the study and lock myself in with the manuals. I’m sure that in time, I would be able to cook a chicken using the rotisserie, roast some beautiful potatoes and parsnips, gently steam fresh vegetables and leave the gravy to simmer. This could all be programmed so that the ovens and hob turn themselves on and off at the required time. I could return refreshed from The Angry Afrikaner to a hot, delicious meal.
When I say in time, I’d give it nine or ten years…