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April 21, 2004

Magnificent obsession

nszac10.jpg I've never understood the rice cooker, which is standard equipment where rice is eaten daily, until last week. New fuzzy logic cookers capable of cooking a wide variety of rices--white, brown, sticky, mixed--and completing the cooking at a pre-set time tempted me to give the rice cooker a try. So, what's the fuzzy logic? You tell the cooker what kind of rice and when you want it ready. Then, you place the rice and required amount of water into the cooker and, based on the weight and temperature of what is in the pot, it figures out what to do in relation to the settings for type of rice and time to be ready. Pretty clever.

I'm not big on appliances. No microwave. No toaster oven. No dishwasher. Our orange juicer, Krups expresso maker, Waring blender, behemoth Champion juicer, and industrial strength Kitchen Aid mixmaster, all good ideas at the time, are rarely if ever used, although our toaster, coffee grinder, electric kettle, food processor, immersion blender, electric grill, and pressure cooker get a pretty good workout.

As I write this, I imagine Harvey Molotch in the room and his book Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be As They Are. Harvey and I co-taught a course, Objects, Desire, and Consumption, at New York University last year, a singular pleasure. Since then, I have been even more acutely aware of the objects in my life, the rice cooker among them.

The Zojirushi NS-ZAC18 10 Cups Rice Cooker is one sleek baby, an armless, legless creature, a kitchen pet, almost animate, certainly intelligent, "neuro fuzzy," as in logic, not fur. A retractable electric cord, carrying handle that folds down, non-stick liner that comes out, and amphibian face, this cooker sings when the rice is ready. Anthony is in the kitchen and just piped up, "It needs to have wheels and a leash. It looks like it wants to be mobile." Matt says that it's an anime character. All this creature is missing is its ears.

What to cook? That's next.

Posted by BKG at April 21, 2004 11:58 AM


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