Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Inducted into cooking

I discovered the day we moved into our new house some months ago, that I could not cook.

Actually, I could not even put on the stove. The gleaming black 4 plate surface looked like the one I had in my old apartment but no matter what I did, I could not get the plates to become hot. Handyman husband (self proclaimed) was called in, all he could come up with was 'you must be doing something wrong'. 

I began to harbour visions of a conspiracy between owner, previous tenants and the Regie (agent).......... but given that we had signed off on the house inspection and faced with the possibility of being reprimanded for our carelessness, not to mention the thought of several thousand Swiss francs evaporating before my eyes, I duly squashed such uncharitable thoughts.   

But two days into the house, six hours of google translate with the French and Italian instruction booklet, three cereal for breakfast, three cereal for lunch and three cereal for dinner meals later, it was time for action.  

I called the previous tenants. No doubt taken aback, the lady politely offers to take me through the steps. You press the button on your left, you wait for the red light, then you select a number from 1 to 9 ………
No, this does not work. She assure me it does. I assure her it does not; biting back the urge to ask if it ever did. Back and forth. Frustration rises on both sides. Finally she asks ‘Are you sure you have the right vessels?’ . Wondering whether to take offence, I answer “What do you mean?” I have a perfectly good frying pan. Its Swiss I might add. 25 years guarantee”. She persists: Yes, but is it the right kind?
And so I am initiated into the hitherto unknown to me wonders of induction cooking. Cooking which works through direct transmission of heat from the hob to the pot through magnetic waves. Its becoming increasingly the norm in newer houses and apartments in Switzerland. Its as precise as gas cooking, more energy efficient and safer. The only drawback is that it works only if the cookware is ferromagentic. 
Not all vessels are. Pan after pan, pot after pot, beautiful cookware inherited from my mother, my 25 year guarantee Swiss pan, my cheap  new to Switzerland collection from IKEA, my specially brought pressure cooker from India ………none worked. I had a modern kitchen and nothing to cook with!

But after the initial shock, it was excitement all the way. How often in life can one indulge in a guilt free, husband endorsed revamp of all the cookware one owns?? 

I love this type of cooking now and find it easier to use than the gas stoves I have grown up with. Whats more, I discovered a great fact: if you put a paper between the stove and the pan, the pan gets hot, not the paper!. So i often cook with a newspaper spread under my pots and save myself cleaning up my messy spills. Whats more, I never fail to start a most amazing dinner conversation by showing off this trick ...............

the water boils 80 francs are unharmed!

Information tip : For those of you in Switzerland, the Swiss Government has a fact sheet and a list of rules, dos and donts (is there anything for which there are no rules in Switzerland?) for induction stoves at this link : Induction Hobs 


  1. Enjoy your simple, chatty style of writing & the humour. Thanks for sharing these vignettes of daily life in Switzerland.

  2. funny but applies to all at the time of initiation into new technologies. Who really bothers about reading the 'user manual' before using a technology product?

  3. admire your way of finding something funny even while facing problems

  4. I'm glad you managed to get your Swiss stove to work in the far we're managing to cook in Delhi, but then I have no idea how to get the gas bottle replaced when that runs out, so I think we might then be on cereal three times a day! ;-)

    1. Jennie that's funny. I think your answer lies in turning Swiss :). Buy yourself one of those induction hot plates that are now all over the Indian market ............else i suspect you are going to be eating cereal meals a lot longer than i did !

  5. Interalia,I like your invention of keeping paper below the pot. It is frustrating to remove the crust of burned overflowed milk, curry etc. If not careful it damages the surface of plate.

  6. Am planning to buy an induction cooker so this was an enjoyable and informative read.


  7. Go know. I never heard about induction cooking. I initially thought that you really couldn't cook like me. Now Bril has taken over those chores. He does the main course and I do all the sides.


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