Still flushed with the success of my recent purchase of a glass kettle, I am stopped in my tracks tonight in Sainsbury’s by the sight of a shiny new food processor, the subject of an alluring special offer. I take down the huge cardboard box from the shelf and turn it over, admiring the pictures of its smart design from all angles. Such a contrast to the dusty, rusting 80s model in my kitchen cupboard! Its awkward uncleanable crevices harbour ecosystems all of their own. I’ve long since stopped using it for fear of what new lifeforms might have evolved in there.
Can I justify this impulse buy? I’ve onlycome in to Sainsbury’s for a pint of milk. Yes, I jolly well can!
A flashback to our half-term trip to the Science Museum endorses my decision. As we looked around its fascinating exhibition of antique household appliances, it had occurred to me that my old cream and brown (how 80s is that?) food processor would have looked right at home there.
This particular machine was a Christmas present from my then boyfriend. Fresh out of university, we were feeling terribly grown-up and we were starting to embrace a domesticity that had passed us by until then. I’d made it through my degree course with only a milkpan and a frying pan in my kitchen locker – and I was one of the better cooks in our hall. My previous birthday present to him had been a “Multiboil” – a kettle that included a little plastic basket in which you could supposedly rest tins or eggs and boil them till done (provided that you didn’t mind turning the kitchen into a sauna in the process). It pre-dated the “forgettle kettle” so it wouldn’t switch itself off when reaching boiling point. We thought it was the apex of kitchen sophistication. The Multiboil was also, inevitably, cream and brown, as was most of my wardrobe and indeed most of my possessions at that time.
My new food processor, by contrast, is snow-white, sparkling, compact and modern. I take it home and lovingly lift it from its packaging. Clearing a space on the windowsill, I set it down gently alongside the new glass kettle, as if introducing it to a new friend. It’s much too smart to hide in a cupboard. By now my old machine is gracing the inside of the wheelie bin.
At this point, my small daughter comes into the kitchen. She looks at it and frowns.
“Why have you bought another kettle?” she asks seriously.
I don’t let her criticism burst my bubble. I’ll treat myself to a new food processor every thirty years, whether I need it or not.