I have a friend. Let’s call her Mei.
Mei is one of those people who’s never seen a kitchen gadget she didn’t immediately need to own. It doesn’t matter what it is. Or that it does something that she would never ever need to do to an ingredient. Like, once, Saffy was over at her home for dinner and Mei asked her to get her a pair of tongs from the drawer and Saffy pulled out what she later described to us as a giant vibrator.
“That’s disgusting, Saf,” Amanda said primly when Saffy came home and told us all about dinner in the sexually depraved home of a 54-year-old high school maths teacher. “Why would anyone store something like that in the kitchen?”
Saffy was unrepentant. “Well, that’s what it looked like!”
Of course, it turned out that Saffy had been handling a sous vide machine, which for those of you who don’t usually spend $350 per head for dinner at a Purvis Street restaurant is something you use to cook meat very slowly in a bath of temperature-controlled water.
“But you’re vegetarian, Mei,” Saffy said. “What’s the point of this thing?”
Mei turned pink. “Well, I was watching the woman at Tangs demonstrate it and it was just so amazing, and she said we could also use it to make those ramen onsen eggs. You know the ones with those lovely soft yolks.
Here, Saffy paused. “But, Mei,” she said, eventually. “You’re also a vegan.”
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Mei buys a lot of kitchen tools, most of which she has never used and never will. She’s also the reason why Tangs’ basement kitchen store has been turning a healthy profit all these decades.
A few days ago, when she was again over at Mei’s for dinner, Saffy noticed on the kitchen counter what she would later describe to us looked like a giant white potty.
“That’s truly disgusting, Saf,” Amanda repeated.
Saffy’s bosom inflated as she pulled out her phone and scrolled through her photo album. “Here,” she said, thrusting the phone forward. “Look at this and tell me that doesn’t look like a giant white potty!”
Amanda turned her face in the other direction. “I know what a Thermomix looks like! Everyone I know has one. It’s supposed to be really amazing!”
“It is!” Saffy sighed. “It does everything! You can literally throw out all your other kitchen gadgets! I watched Mei cook our entire dinner with it. It took her like half an hour to make a soup, fry bee hoon, and steam a fish and two vegetables. I couldn’t believe it! I wanna get one!”
When I pointed out that she didn’t cook, Saffy was having none of it.
“But if I had one, I could cook! In fact, I probably would be cooking all the time! Think of all the money I’d save from eating out!”
Amanda looked up from her phone where she’d been Googling Thermomixes. “Have you seen the price tag? For $2,400, you’d better be cooking all the time with it!”
For the past week, Saffy has been on YouTube, binge-watching all the Thermomix cooking classes. The other day, I passed her sprawled on the couch watching someone make pineapple tarts. “Is it inspiring you?” I asked.
Saffy shifted. “You know, I’m not fond of pineapple tarts, but this Mavis Ong is making me a convert. She’s my favourite Thermomix auntie,” she said, idly scratching her ear. “At first, I thought this other chick Sew Chin was my favourite, but right now, she and Mavis are running neck to neck!”
Sharyn, of course, has a Thermomix in her kitchen and she’s thrilled that soon she may have another groupie friend. “Yah, that Mavis very good, but I also like Chef Ambrose! He very handsome!”
Saffy frowned. “Ambrose? Handsome? Are we watching the same guy? The one who makes nasi ulam and laksa fried rice?”
Sharyn licked her lips. “Ay, you don’t be so bad, can? He’s so clever. And, oh-so, hor, I love the shape of his nose! Not too sharp, not too flat. Very good fengshui! But, hor,” she added, her eyes turning moist, “my favourite chef is Ben Bayly. Wah, that one really got wok-hei!”
“I can’t understand a word of his Kiwi accent!” Saffy said.
Sharyn shrugged. “No need understand. Just look, enough!”
Amanda thinks Saffy’s Thermomix mania will blow over soon. “Like, seriously, when is she ever going to make nasi ulam? She’s too lazy to even make Maggie mee, and that’s just boiling water in a kettle!”
Saffy says the only thing that’s keeping her from getting the Thermomix is its price tag. “It’s a lot of money!”
“Especially if you do a Mei and shove it into the back of the cupboard after making pineapple tarts,” I said.
“Probably not even then,” Saffy said. “How many tarts could you possible eat? I’m amazed that Mavis Ong isn’t the size of a truck.”
She sighed and clicked on another YouTube video. “Assam pedas fish with Suriya Abdullah. Yum!” she murmured with satisfaction.