FROM CHIPS TO ECLIPSE

I’m a bit late to the whole Influencer thing but today I’d like to talk to you about air fryers.

I’m generally expert at not knowing what’s going on, trend wise. I’m good at politics and gardening and OK on sport and wine, but I’m not on TikTok (insert surprise here).

And yet even I’d heard about air fryers. I’m not sure how it happened. Maybe there was a radiogram on in the background one time when the Welsh Cleaner was at her chores. My recollection is of people phoning in to say they just bought an air fryer from K-Mart for $15 and now they no longer use their kitchen.

They cook everything in the air fryer, plugged in next to the television. They’ve lost weight, lost the will to live, and they’ve turned the kitchen into a fernery.

I’ve heard this sort of thing before, in French.

Robinson’s sister Sue bought a Thermomix when we were visiting her over in France years ago. Apparently she could get a discount if she invited – was it a hundred? maybe it was six – people to her home to watch the Thermomix delivered and installed on her benchtop. Voila!

We were trapped guinea pigs.

I didn’t understand a word of what was being said but the demonstrator poured almost everything she could find in Sue’s cupboards into this giant machine and pressed some buttons and out came – from memory – duck confit, pumpkin scones, strawberry pancakes, coffee, fish and chips, a birthday cake, pizza, sourdough bread, and a toffee extravaganza of the Eiffel Tower.

Ooh la la! Throw away your old appliances, instal a sprinkler system and buy some truffle spores for what used to be your kitchen.

Back home, Robinson was surfing the Autumn sun on a couch out the back a few weeks ago.

‘I might buy an air fryer,’ she declared.

‘What for?’ I wondered, professionally dampening her enthusiasm.

‘$47 dollars. Normally $450.’

‘Is scam written in capital letters or is it in the fine print?’ I asked.

‘Go and lock yourself under the stairs. I’m buying it.’

The only thing that can stop her at this stage of what I call the frenzy is her not being able to find her glasses in order to find her wallet. While that rigmarole went on I started thinking about air fried chips. Normally I hand cut my chips and deep fry them in a saucepan of boiling oil. They’re pretty good and entirely fattening. Now I had visions of chips as nice as the ones at the Forest Lodge Hotel, airy and perfect.

Soon there was a box at our front door. It was about the size of a wheat silo. We unpacked it and tried to fit it into our new kitchen, which would soon be expensively repurposed as a home cinema.

I cut chips from actual potatoes. Eighteen minutes at 200 in the air fryer. I threw some great steaks on the BBQ. We leaned against the benchtops and drank red wine and trembled. And noticed that the air fryer in operation was noisier than a Qantas flight about to land at Sydney Airport.

The chips in the end weren’t great. They’ve never been great. A bit soggy.  I’ve now tried overcooking them but unsurprisingly they turned out to be overcooked. It was like eating prawn cracker Communion bread.

According to diagrams on top of air silo we can cook fish, steak, prawns, chicken and croquembouche, but we haven’t tried yet. I doubt it.

Next week we’ll be reviewing tonight’s total lunar eclipse. Was it better on Instagram?

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