Friday, January 27, 2012

Pot and Kettle

Visitors to our humble abode will notice two things: 1) that we have a lot of candles and things that operate with an open flame, and 2) that our cats are allowed to do just about anything, under the theory that, were we not home, they'd do it anyway. How the two have managed to coexist without creating a towering inferno is one of those little miracles of life.

But despite our propensity for fire, we do have an electric kettle. An electric kettle is basically a kettle whose sole function is to boil water. You fill it up to whatever amount you need (usually around 1 L for us), push a button, and about 2 minutes later, you have boiling hot water you can use for tea, ramen noodles, cooking, etc. It takes about 5 minutes to boil a full kettle (1.7 L), but ours is one of the lower-end models. The kettle turns itself off when it's finished. It's been such an integral part of my life that, like my sneakers, I've simply not thought to blog about them. But as I do follow a few American blogs, it struck me that these must not be espeically popular in the US, whereas they are incredibly popular in the Netherlands. I don't know of a single Dutch home without one, and I'd even go so far as to say that, across the entirety of Europe, every home has at least one electric kettle. Even in my student house in Maastricht, my suitemates kept an electric kettle in the kitchen, free for anybody to use.

I'm guessing that there are some not-entirely-unjustified concerns about safety. Water and electricity have always been an uncomfortable mix for most people. However, I would say without hesitation that, given the placement of our microwave, and the fiddliness of our gas stove, that the electric kettle is one of our safer appliances. Right next to the coffee machine, literally, where ours sits. To be quite honest, it does make some pretty scary sounds while it's bringing water to the boil, but I've never seen one, no matter how old, go on the fritz.

Or maybe it's that there's no way to sexy-up an electric kettle. You can give it whatever shape you want, make it out of titanium, add a filter, brag about how compact it is, but at the end of the day, you have to make it so that you push a button and water is boiled. It's so simple, compared to a space-age microwave or a state-of-the-art dishwasher, that I could imagine that it'd be hard to market: "It boils water! Really fast!" "So?"

Hm. That is kind of hard to sell. I guess it's one of those things you have to experience first, before you realize what an awesome thing it is.

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