Friday, November 25, 2011
THINGS BEST LEFT TO A PROFESSIONAL
I’m housebound today, refusing to venture out into an environment where an astounding number of people have been whipped into an irrational shopping frenzy by the media creation, “Black Friday”. For those readers not in the US, Black Friday is not the original stock market crash by that name in 1869 or the day after the stock market crashed in 1929; it’s the day after Thanksgiving. In recent years it’s been turned into a sort of holiday in its own right, a carnival celebration of consumerism. All of the stores have sales that include loss leader items that lure customers in and entice them to buy large quantities of random goods. This year I read that many stores were opening at midnight on Thursday and staying open 24 hours so that people could start their shopping early and end it late. Personally, I fail to see the attraction of spending hours waiting line for a store to open so that I can buy the same stuff I could buy any other day of the week, month, or year. I’d rather pay a little more and shop in peace, at my leisure for things I really want.
This leads me to thoughts about household gadgets that are probably leaping off the Black Friday shelves today, and DIY processes that would better be left to a professional. More specifically, the topic of the day is juicers. The resident male of the house went off for a trip to Portland with his brother, but left behind all of the debris from his latest foray into juice-making with his big macho juicer that takes up more than its fair share of counter space (of course, he says the same thing about my shoes in the closet, but we all know that’s different).
I know fresh juice is theoretically a good idea, but somehow I just don’t get it on a practical level. After feeding fruits or vegetables into the apparatus and extracting a relatively small amount of juice, there’s a huge pile of pulp to dispose of, a machine that has to be disassembled, multiple awkwardly-shaped parts that have to be cleaned, and a machine that has to be reassembled. It’s even worse if the juicer doesn’t get cleaned right away and the debris gets dried out and fused to all of its unwieldy parts. The picture, taken from the manufacturer’s website, is designed to make the juicer look much smaller and more compact than it actually is, and omits the oddly-shaped juice collector thingie that fits under the spout. I’m sparing you, gentle reader, the horror of seeing this sleek, industrial-looking apparatus filled with moldy, rotten vegetable matter.
There’s perfectly good ready-made juice to drink in every grocery store. It tastes just about as good. Maybe I’m not a connoisseur, since I don’t drink juice very often, but that’s how it seems to me. And why not just EAT the damn fruit? That way you get it all and there’s little or nothing to clean. Fresh fruit tastes really good, and chewing it makes it taste even better.
I feel the same way about food processors, even though I’ve never had one - what’s wrong with a good sharp knife or a grater? Then there are electric mixers (never had one of those, either) - what’s wrong with a bowl and a spoon or hand-operated whisk or beater? And home ice cream makers (was given one as a present) - why not buy good ice cream ready made or skip Black Friday, save up, and take a trip to Florence, where the professionals make the best ice cream in the world? And bread makers (never had one) - why not go to a good bakery and buy professional quality bread?
What are your thoughts on gadgets? Are there ones you love? Are you like me and find most of them to be way more trouble than they’re worth? Should I invent a home perfume mixing machine, patent it, and get the box stores to sell it on Black Friday to people who won’t ever use it?
[Schwarzer Freitag in Wien, 19th century print by unknown artist; juicer photo from manufacturer's website]