Challop (noun) – plural : challops
1: Abbreviation for challenging opinion.
2: An irregularly published column on website Good Food Revolution.
“Not Under My Roof, Jamie”
Much like a VCR, when growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1970s and 80s, we didn’t have a microwave in our kitchen. Sure, lots of other people had one, or the other, or both, but my Mum wouldn’t be having either of them in our house, and we probably couldn’t have afforded them anyway.
So perhaps because of this, I grew up with an aversion to these chrome and faux-wood boxes of radioactive death, and by that I mean microwaves. Of course, as soon as I got to university I bought my own VHS player, but that’s another story…
A Microwave-Free Lifestyle?
Upon returning to my hometown after university, I fell into the fine dining world, and this habitual repugnance was wholly cemented as in such establishments the microwave oven was truly scorned and looked down upon as a clumsy brute force tool of the unskilled. Granted, I did enjoy the microwaved baked potatoes served up to me by my lovely Aunt Helen, but I would never have admitted as much to my peers in the industry.
Upon my move to Canada, and moving in with my then-fiancée, I recall being quite shocked to see a microwave perched on the kitchen counter. Over the years I somehow brainwashed her into agreeing with my diatribe that such things were inherently evil, and so when we moved house her microwave was finally kicked to the curb. Just today, in doing some research, I communicated with my now-ex and discovered that she never went back to her microwaving ways; she told me that she doesn’t miss it in the slightest.
And so I lived a microwave-free life for as long as I can remember, until around six years and a half years ago when my current partner and I came to renovate our kitchen. She grew up with microwaves, having a completely different outlook on the damn things than I, and she really wanted one for our new kitchen; and her mother downright insisted! Deciding that this wasn’t really a hill I wished to die upon, I begrudgingly acquiesced, telling myself that installing one would be the only way to get a decent extractor fan in there. I still remember the very day I selected one at Home Depot (the model with the most powerful fan, naturally) and drove it home; I was now the
proud parent of an admittedly sleek-looking LG microwave.
And I stubbornly refused to use it… well, apart from the fan… and the downlight.. and the clock.
And Baby Makes Three (And A Microwave)
Then we had our son… and things… things changed.
Looking back upon those days, I’m not quite sure how modern parents cope without the aid of a microwave. I kid, somewhat, but the microwave made on-demand feeding so very much less stressful. Our son took to mushy/solid food pretty early on, so being able to heat up pre-cooked micro-batches of stuff was an absolute breeze.
And then there was the seemingly never-ending Indian takeout leftovers. Why dirty a handful of saucepans when one could carefully serve up a platter of saag paneer, lamb korma, chicken biryani, pilau rice et al., shove it in the magic box, and have it all ready to eat in seconds!
As much as I enjoy the pleasures of an oven-cooked baked potato, the indulgent convenience of bombarding a spud with millions of microwaves in mere minutes was just too much for me to resist.
Was I Letting Myself Go?
What had I been missing all my life? Why on earth had I been so deluded? Had this been some kind of inverse snobbery from my youth creeping into my adult life?
I read this piece in the Guardian the other week, Gourmet to go! 17 brilliant, unexpected ways with a microwave – from risotto to profiteroles.
I was considering cooking asparagus in the microwave… I really was. Once, not that long ago, I would have considered this act to be complete and utter sacrilege. And yet there I was, dutifully wrapping asparagus stalks in soggy kitchen roll, readying them for the sliver box… what kind of monster had I become? How could I ever admit this act of heresy to Malcolm here at Good Food Revolution?
For the record, the asparagus was bloody excellent. You should try it…
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And perhaps it’s just middle age?