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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Monday, July 04, 2005

Utensibility Week



It's a day after Utensibility Week ended, but I hope Sam is still collecting entries because, like Zara Maria, I am keen to wax lyrical about our European oven and cooktop as my money-no-object splurge kitchen utensil.
Gaggenau is a German company that makes high quality (and high cost) kitchen items, but one which is still relatively unknown in Australia. 7 years ago when my parents were looking for kitchen items when building our new house they went to many places. They had European appliances in mind, as they really are better quality than the Australian companies. We are a family who love food, and back then my parents did quite a bit of entertaining. The kitchen was to be focal point for the house, and the appliances would reflect that.
But the thing that disappointed my mum so much was that she couldn't find any company making ovens big enough. Miele, Smeg, Westinghouse, Kenwood...everything was too small. We're not talking enormous American-size ovens here, but something big enough to hold a baking tray for a roast! Small size ovens abound for the new small size apartment living.
So, when mum saw an oven that was not only large enough, but aesthetically pleasing she went straight to it. She had never heard of Gaggenau appliances before, so the price tag of $6,000 shocked her a bit. But then the salesperson showed her everything it can do, and she was won over. Yes, it's pretty damn expensive for an oven, and reflects the market that Gaggenau appliances have over here; aimed at high end domestic and smaller commercial kitchens.
I love this oven; it is electric, as is the preference of most chefs and foodies ("cook with gas, bake with electricity") it heats itself up in less than five minutes and maintains a completely even temperature throughout. I know it can do so much more than I make it do, and I should read up on it a bit so I can learn how to drive it better.


But continuing on the Gaggenau theme...is exactly what my mum did after she was shown the captabilities of the oven. The salesperson cleverly showed her the other Gaggenau applicances and mum was taken, to say the least. She took my dad back a few weeks later for a demonstration. I think dad knew he would be up for some big money, so he wasn't a very willing participant, but when that rep starting offering crispy deep fried delights from the deep fryer option, I think dad pulled out his cheque book right away!

What they ended up buying that day was a medley of Gaggenau appliances to make a sophisticated cooktop.
From left to right we have an inbuilt steamer, perfect for steaming vegetables, fish and puddings on Christmas day. This was the most expensive appliance from the cooktop at about $2,000.
Next to that is my beloved deep fryer. This baby is da BOMB! It heats to mega temperatures in minutes, doesn't cause much smell and makes the most crispy, non-greasy deep fried delights. We don't use it everyday, but it's worth it when we do.

After the deep fryer are our burners; one large, one small and a separate wok burner, with the capability for huge amounts of heat. Perfect for woks, but also for heating up big pots of water for pasta in just a few minutes. They're all gas, and allow great control of the heat, which you just can't get with electric burners.
We also got a Gaggenau rangehood and dishwasher at the same time, which I didn't photograph because, well, one looks like a rangehood and the other just looks like the wall, as it's built into the cupboards. I could never live without a dishwasher.
I really couldn't live without these appliances, and recognise how fortunate I am to have access to them. My mum told me the other night that she said to dad at the end of the building of our house how glad she was that they bought the kitchen items early in the process, because after costs exploded later in the project, there would have been no chance she could have got such lovely appliances then!
I do admit that these fabulous appliances are a contributing factor to me continuing to live at home with my family. And although my dad is no longer with us, I'm sure he'd be so pleased that I take such enjoyment using them, and the interest in cooking I developed through his own love for food. I dread the time I move into my own place to be confronted with a rickety gas oven and ancient electric burners. I wonder if we can take our appliances with us when we move.....?

On a completely different level, this is another utensil I couldn't live without. It cost about $3 at a homewares shop, and it something my mum brought home as a gift. It's a simple measuring spoon with a divider that slides up and down to measure how much you use. It's a million times more useful than those little sets of individual measuring spoons, and it's testimony to how much I love this item that it looks so battered and stained. I think it's almost time to empty my change jar for a new one.

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