My name is Sue Ellen, and I don’t want a Thermomix.
(*Hi, Sue Ellen!*)
If you have any friends who have a Thermomix, or you have one yourself, you’ll know that’s a pretty radical statment. The “Thermie”, as it is
irritatingly affectionately known by devotees, is the most shit-hot kitchen item of the moment. If the hype is to be believed, it does everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. And all in a fraction of the time and effort. Who wouldn’t want one?
Well… me. And I’ll be honest, for a long time my resistance has been due to the hype. Not to mention the babbling, disturbingly Stockholm Syndrome-like enthusiasm of Thermomix owners. (I’ve never been to a Thermomix demonstration but I am fairly certain that all demonstrators are taught to tout the benefits of “no nasty additives”, because I’ve heard the exact same phrase from every Thermomix owner I’ve ever met. Here’s a tip: being smug and superior about your awesome food choices doesn’t make me want to shell out $2,000-ish on a kitchen gadget. It makes me want to punch you.)
Anyway, yes. The hype. The enthusiasm. The occasional smugness. None of that does it for me. I do get that when people really love a product they tend to rave about it a bit. Heck, I did a whole blog post about a $30 pair of Target trousers I bought. I get it. But it still irritates the crap out of me.
However, I have recently wondered if I would ever buy one. Say that money was not issue. Say that I’d never heard anyone rave about their beloved ‘Thermie’. Would I want one then? Would the benefits of the machine outweigh the annoyances?
I’ll admit, part of me likes the idea of a kitchen gadget that does a lot of things in a short amount of time. But that’s only a tiny part. The rest of me isn’t interested. And it’s not the money, or the wide-eyed Thermomix disciples, or the hype. It’s that, for me, cooking is about more than the finished product. The finished product is great, but I also like the process. I like the sounds and smells as I gently stir a simmering pan. I like mixing wet ingredients in one bowl and dry in another. I like seeing if I can manage to chop the entire onion without having to stop and wipe my eyes. I like the silky-slippery feel of cornflour. I even like getting my fingers into sticky scone dough – and I was the child who hated finger painting because I didn’t like having dirty hands, so that’s a big call for me.
I’m not a complete Luddite. I certainly do use kitchen gadgets to make my life easier. I spent years creaming butter and sugar by hand, because that’s the way my mum did it and it hadn’t occurred to me that one could do it any other way, but I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ll happily use a hand mixer for that. (I did, however, give away my food processor because I hardly ever used it.) I can understand the appeal of speedy cooking, especially in large families, and sometimes I need to get something on the table in a hurry too. But mostly… I prefer to cook slowly. I want to smell and touch and taste things. I want textures and sensations; I want slow simmering and gentle stirring. I want to enjoy food, and for me that means enjoying the process of preparing it. Maybe that means I can’t cook 12 different things on a Saturday afternoon, but you know, I’m really okay with that.