Feeding People

by Jan Hostyn


Bacon seems to be taking over the world. Bacon cupcakes, bacon popcorn, bacon butter, maple bacon donuts, bacon brittle…it’s everywhere and in everything. It’s gotten so bad I barely bat an eye when I see bacon anything anymore. Until the other day.

That’s when I almost ran smack-dab into a huge stack of Bacon Bowls. They were impossible to miss, perched precariously high and numbering into the hundreds (or so it seemed). I had been on a mission to hunt down the perfect pillow, but these contraptions quickly stole my focus.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered there wasn’t an ounce of bacon present in that pile of boxes. Instead, tucked neatly inside each package was a curious little device that you could wrap bacon around. Pop it into the oven or microwave and ta-da, out comes an edible bowl (made of bacon, of course). Just the thing for plopping chocolate ice cream in, evidently.

They did not tempt me. At all. You see, I’m one of those rare creatures who doesn’t actually understand the appeal of bacon. If I really, really liked bacon? Well, maybe.

There was a time, though, when simply the fact that it could be classified as a kitchen gadget/gizmo/doodad/thingamabob would have turned me off instantly. They were all dirty words in my world. Things like that just seemed so, well, unnecessary.

Not that I wasn’t interested. I used to be fascinated with practically anything kitchen-related, no matter how gimmicky, but usually more in a car wreck kind of way. I didn’t really want to look, but I couldn’t seem not to, either. It all seemed like just more stuff to clutter up my already cluttered kitchen.

Then something happened.

My unfailingly reliable and perfectly pleasing popovers suddenly decided that popping was passé. I went from being able to effortlessly whip up respectable popovers to being totally incapable of achieving any sort of pop whatsoever. My muffin tin, my whisk, my bowl and I spent endless hours sequestered in the kitchen, experimenting with countless recipes, and the results always turned out the same: pffft.

I took some comfort in realizing that, after a bit of research, I wasn’t the only one who was perplexed by popovers. Popover mishaps are a very common occurrence. It was deflating, though.

And then I read about popover pans and their penchant for producing the loftiest popovers ever. I was torn. A popover pan has one purpose and one purpose only, and to me that made it a gadget.

I did not buy gadgets. But I wanted popovers. Desperately.

Out I went. When I came back, I was the somewhat hesitant owner of a brand-new shiny popover pan. And you know what? It worked. Popover success — times a gazillion. Now, no matter what I do or don’t do, my popovers pop to the loftiest heights ever. I can’t seem to make them not pop.

Gadget is no longer a bad word in my kitchen. My popover pan has seen to that. Now a gadget is just a thing. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that we all need things. Just different things.

I deem my garlic press as essential as a knife, or a cutting board, or my multiple sets of measuring cups. Admittedly, it does only one thing, but in my kitchen, it does that one thing all the time. I have a friend who is not a garlic press fan at all. Her utensil of choice is a knife. A quick smash and voilà, perfectly crushed garlic. Or so she says.

Another friend absolutely adores her Whirley Pop popcorn popper (kind of like a pot, but it stirs the popcorn as it pops). Me, well, I think I’ve dug mine out only a couple of times in too many years to count. My beat-up old camping pot makes better popcorn hands-down.

You can get everything these days: batter dispensers; herb scissors; corn peelers; banana slicers (anything slicers, actually); clear toasters (so you can see when your toast is done); cupcake corers (they take out the centre so you can fill the cupcakes); mugs with a little compartment for cookies or crackers; boil buoys (floating devices that chime when your water boils); ice cream scoops that scoop cylinder-shaped blocks of ice cream (so you can plunk it in a cone and it doesn’t fall out); a contraption that hooks onto your cookie so you can dip away without ever being in danger of dropping your cookie in your milk, and so on.
Interesting? Definitely. Useful? Perhaps.

I won’t tell which of those have found spots next to my treasured popover pan. Chances are pretty good you won’t find me eating bacon popcorn out of a bacon bowl any time soon, though.

A former kitchen-gadget/gizmo/doodad/thingamabob phobic, Jan Hostyn is slowly but surely conquering her fears.