The Emperor’s New Clothes
A little while ago, I dipped my toes into a cult of sorts. No, not a Tupperware party – I’ve made it through a few of those relatively unscathed. And it wasn’t one of those Chef’s Toolbox parties either (yes, been to one of those, bought a pizza stone that I never used, lugged it around for years because I spent quite a lot of money on it, then I started using it for baking bread a year ago. Not a waste in the end, hey?) However, I’m digressing again. How unusual.
No, I went to a Thermomix party.
I’d been hearing about this wonder of German technology off and on for a few years, how every restaurant had banks of them and if I let one into my house, it would revolutionise my cooking and I’d be throwing out ALL my other appliances. Suffice to say I was pretty curious. I do like to cook a bit, and I like to bake and if this thing was as good as they said it was, well – there’s my Christmas and birthday presents sewn up for the next year or so. I was quite interested when I agreed to go to the party. Myself being the researching type of person, I did consult Mr Google and found only rave reviews (this was prior to the Great Thermomix TM5 Scandal of 2014) and could not find a single person who didn’t totally love their Thermie (or Gladys. People give their appliances cutesy names. Weird.)
Anyway, I rocked up to a friend’s place with a couple of other curious punters and the demonstration began. Firstly, this life changer was going to set me back close to two thousand dollars ($1939 for the machine, and by the time you bought the really rather excellent heating dish thingie and a couple of cook books, two gorillas will have left your care). On the sample menu was a sorbet, a beetroot dip, a risotto, dough, and lemon custard. Now, everything tasted nice, and being able to cook up all of that stuff in the three hours of the demo was indeed quite impressive. But was it worth $2K? And would a Thermomix fit in my life if I decided to save up for it?
For starters, it took up a LOT of space, yet the cooking device was quite small (only 2.2l). And noisy. Oh. My. Goodness. That thing was so loud. Even when it was making custard, it was bloody noisy. Hrrm. Ok, I don’t have the shift worker at home any more, but the noise level was ridiculous. Then there’s the time saving of the device – nothing took very long to make – but would it really make that much difference?
Of the things we made, I would be the only person who would eat risotto at my house, and while the demo suggested the risotto would take a mere 15 minutes to cook – it still needed a few minutes to dice and sort of saute the onions, then it had to sit and rest for ten or so minutes. I’m pretty sure that the risotto I make only takes about 30 minutes in total anyway. Ok, I wouldn’t have to stand over it and stir, but that’s why someone invented baked risotto. Mmmm. baked risotto. The custard was yummy, and the dough was pretty good, too. But a teensy quantity. The bowl only holds 2l. Bread is something I make at least once a week – the recipe has just over a kilo of dry ingredients, and 750ml liquid. It’s not going to fit. Nobody at mine drinks smoothies (it’s NOT FOOD, it’s a drink) and we’re past the having to hide the vegies in the food for the offsprings. They eat more vegetables than I do.
I didn’t buy one there and then. But I still thought about it. So, I decided to slot an Imaginary Thermomix into my kitchen and see how it fit in. The only difference between a real Thermomix and my Imaginary one was that the imaginary one didn’t take up anywhere near as much room on the bench and it was way quieter. I do some kind of half arsed meal planning so I have a vague idea about what I would have cooked for a couple of weeks.
Commence Thermomix v the stuff I already have:
Sunday, I made sausage rolls. Now, while I could have used Thermomix to make the pastry, but Mr Pampas kindly makes puff pastry in sheets that are just right. The filling has a heap of grated vegies and mince. Thermy doesn’t grate. It minces. Thermy would have stayed on the bench while I got the Whizz n Chopper out and grated all the things. The rest of it requires squooshing stuff with my hands.
Monday, we had burgers. I actually made them on Sunday while I had the whizz n chopper out for the grating of the vegetables. Bought rolls and sliced all the other stuff with the mandoline. No Thermy for Monday.
Tuesday – spag bol. This is a standard Tuesday night meal, because it’s a busy night. I make it in bulk in quantities that fill a 7l slow cooker. Plus, bolognaise is about the only recipe that’s not for Thermomixes.
(Not doing so well, are we? Hrrm.)
Wednesday was parmies and veg. Yay! Something I could use the Thermy for. I could steam the vegies and make mash. And I could make the breadcrumbs for the parmie, and the tomato sauce (I make passata myself, too) as long as I made them in advance. Planning. Not something I’m awesome at.
Thursday. Big, fat lamb roast. Yum. Roast vegies and gravy and all the trimmings. Puddin’ for dessert – I could either mix it in Thermy then chuck it in the oven, or I could mix it in the Kitchen Aid and make custard in the Thermy. Ok… not improbable.
Friday is takeaway night – we make takeaways. This Friday was pizza – I could have made the dough in Thermy, and the passata. Everything else involved cutting stuff with a knife or the mandoline. I buy grated cheese in a bag. I could have pulverised the cheese in Thermy, but it doesn’t grate (the whizz n chopper doesn’t grate cheese, either).
Saturday, we had steaks and veg. Again with the making of steamed vegies and mash in the Thermy and cooking teh steak on the barbeque.
On the weekends, I bake. As well as the aforementioned bread, I like to make breakfast crumble. I stew a heap of fruit and make a seriously thick crumble and serve it with yoghurt. Mmm. Magnificent. I could probably stew the fruit in Thermy, assuming it could cope with about a kilo and a half of fruit. And while I could make the crumble in it, I’d have to wait til it was finished stewing, wash the bowl and make crumble (butter, sugar, oats, coconut and almonds) without pulverising everything. So, I stuck to the rice cooker and the Kitchen Aid. Plus, I made muffins for lunches – I could have done them in Thermy (after the fruit finished stewing and I’d made the crumble etc), but I just mix it up in a jug. I use a whisk. Very low tech.
Now, that’s only a week of fairly standard meals at our place, but the only thing I’d really use a Thermomix for would be cooking vegetables, and making the odd dessert. We’re not fans of casserole type meals, and I’m the only one that eats curries and fancy rice dishes. Yes, it whips up a cake mix in seconds, but so does the very attractive mixer I already have. It wouldn’t get much use when we have tacos or lasagne or souvlaki from left over roast. And aside from the noisy factor, the appliance is butt-ugly and not something I’d want out on the bench all the time.
Don’t think I’ll be rushing out to drop close to $2K on a Thermomix any time soonly. It’s a glorified saucepan really! Maybe if I win tattslotto or something, I might consider one of the cheapie knock offs. Or I might look into whether the grater attachment for my Kitchen Aid will grate cheese. That’d set me back $150, which is much more acceptable to the wallet.
If my family had food allergies or if I wanted to grind my own flour and stuff, maybe I’d consider it. I also sort of wonder a bit if all the people who have laid out the loot for one of these machines don’t ever mention not loving it because hello, just spent TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS on a machine and I’d better bloody well love it.