Good Food Blog
Put the kettle on...Posted at 3:30PM, 25 November 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
There's been some sadness in our family. After a month or so of embarrassing incontinence, the beloved kettle has died. You do get to think of them as friends, don't you? It's not just that they're there for us every time we seek solace in a cup of tea or a lift from coffee . They're there when we need to dissolve a stock cube, make some soup, and get the pasta pot or slow-cooker underway.
I remember as a lass (feel free to imagine a Yorkshire accent at this point) working on a big cookbook - 300 recipes, all triple-tested - when getting dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less was every publisher's obsession. The editor reckoned 'put the kettle on to boil' should be the first line of nearly every recipe.
It sounded a bit weird at first but as the book steadily came together and we looked for more and more ways to shave minutes off the cooking time, we began to see she was completely right. Peeling tomatoes? Boil the kettle. Blanching green veg? Boil the kettle. Steaming fish? Boil the kettle. Dried wild mushrooms ? You get the picture. Her winning argument was that not only was using the kettle faster than boiling a pan of water on the stovetop, it was more environmentally friendly too.
When our kettle finally had to go, my heartbreak was such that I hunted for one exactly the same. I'm very keen on filter kettles, see, because in our area life feels like a constant battle with limescale, but I need a large one because of all the soup and pasta we eat. Of course they don't make the damn things anymore. After much researching of manufacturers' websites I settled on the contemporary equivalent but don't like it as much - the exterior gets worryingly hot and the big blue light that indicates it's on is just stupid.
Then I happened by my husband's office and thought I'd help out by cleaning the kitchenette. What was there? My old, old kettle. One I'd smugly dumped on him when I bought my last one. It served me well for a good ten years, and there it was, getting daily abuse from a bunch of salesmen and still going strong, while the one I'd loved so much carked it in just five years. They don't make them like they used to.
I'm feeling rather betrayed, to be honest. We've grown to expect fridges and washing machines to die the week after the manufacturer's guarantee expires, why should one expect better of a kettle? Perhaps it's because many of us can still remember parents' and grandparents' electricals that marched on for decades. In the dim, dark recesses of my memory, in the days when landfill wasn't such an environmental concern, I even seem to remember repairmen. Yes, people who repaired things. But they're mostly extinct now. Some folk say you can still find the occasional one out in the country .