Monday, May 23, 2005

NJ: Microwaves

RE: Because I haven't had my coffee yet today....

Here's a random thought for you: How often do you think about your microwave oven?

My microwave oven actually is an oven (conventional). I can bake things in it (like pizza), but it does tend to get hot on top, so I have to remember to take the cereal boxes off first.

That's all the boring part. The interesting part, to me, is the lack of control over microwaving.

My microwave has three settings. 200 watts, 600 watts, 1000 watts. Coming from America, with my 1200 watt microwave with power levels between 0 and 100%, this is a cutback. On the other hand, virtually every microwave defaults to 500/600 watts, so everything microwavable comes with instructions precisely for those settings. Anyway...

Also, the time can be set with three buttons. 10 minutes, 1 minute, 10 seconds. Need to microwave something for 55 seconds? Better round up or down. I haven't found a microwave yet here in Japan that allows 1 second precision (or even 5 seconds). But I rarely feel the need to microwave something for less than 10 seconds, so it's not really a problem. Also, the turntable is calibrated to make one complete turn every 10 seconds, so however long I microwave a cup of cocoa, it always finishes exactly how it started.

Which is all well and good. How much control do you need over your microwaving, anyway?

Well, it turns out, for me at least, more.

You can't buy microwave popcorn in Japan, and I'll tell you why: you can't microwave it. My family sent me some microwavable popcorn (thank you!) but when I nuked it, I discovered another 'feature' of microwaves in Japan. Even at full (1000 watt) power, the microwave will shut off at times, like American microwaves set to less than 100% power. So, the popcorn will be fine for a minute or so, start popping, the bag expands, The light's still on, the turntable is still turning, the fan is still humming, but the microwave is not microwaving. The bag collapses as the steam escapes and cools, and now it looks like vacuum-sealed partially-popped corn, which it kind of is.


1 comment:

  1. That would drive me nuts. I fancy myself a near master of the microwave and I owe it all to the ability to control time and power down to the one.