Last weekend, Al dragged my ass out to the suburbs so he could go to Fry’s, which he described as “Best Buy, only bigger,” but actually feels more like “Six Flags over Nerdsville.” It is HUGE. My first words upon entering were, “Well, I’m certainly not going to get overwhelmed and cranky within thirty seconds.” Say what you will about me, but at least I’m self-aware.
So, in a nauseating display of gender stereotypes, I crankily followed him through the computer sections in search of things I can’t name and don’t understand, scolded him for wanting to buy electronic toys we don’t need, then felt a wash of pure, sweet relief when he finally said we could leave–which lasted until I discovered the small appliance aisle. Kitchen stuff! Acres of it! I don’t even fucking cook, but look at all the kitchen stuff!
Several years ago, I bought a George Foreman grill on a lark, choosing the cheapest, crappiest model, since I figured I’d use it about as often as I use, you know, the stove. But much to my surprise, I fell in love with it, because it made certain types of cooking significantly more difficult to fuck up. So I used it until the casing was permanently stained brown, the non-stick stuff was coming off the grill plates, and the stupid bun-warmer lid had busted clean off. I finally retired it a few weeks ago, mostly because looking at it was seriously starting to gross me out.
So I needed a new electric grill. I’d been planning on going to Target and getting a George that was a step or two up from that one–removable, dishwasher-safe cooking plates, a bigger surface, no stupid bun-warmer, otherwise pretty much the same, and probably somewhere in the vicinity of $49.99. But then I found myself in this friggin’ small appliance theme park. So! Many! Choices!
Except, there was something wrong with almost every last one of ‘em. I was strongly attracted to a nifty T-Fal dealie that claimed you could just pop out the electric unit and put the whole thing into the dishwasher, up until Al attempted to pop out the electric unit, which took him five minutes and involved a lot of grunting, “Baroo?” looks, and finally, a “Shit! Oh, wait… I did it.” Which means it would take me half an hour, and I’d electrocute myself. Moving right along, then. This one doesn’t have removable plates, that one’s too small, this one’s ugly, that one’s too damned expensive… The George I originally wanted was on display, but not in stock. Harrumph!
And then I saw it.
The Cuisinart Griddler.
The machine that has resolved every. single. design. flaw. in the history of electric grills. You’ve got your removable, dishwasher-safe plates. Not only that, but two sets of plates, ridged and flat! And popping them on and off is intuitive and easily accomplished by me! Then you’ve got your floating hinge, so shit actually cooks evenly when you’re using it as a contact grill–and you can flip it wide open to have a non-contact grill that’s twice as big! So I can do fish and pancakes and shit on it, which means I never have to use my stove again! Whee! But wait, I’m not done. This baby also has temperature controls. Two of them. And an “off” setting, so I don’t have to remember to unplug it or risk burning the building down. And a proper handle, so I can actually control the rate of ascent when I lift the lid, rather than flipping it up and jumping back in fear. And as if all that weren’t enough, it’s cute!
All that means, of course, that it cost twice what I was planning to spend. I bought it anyway and, having used it once, am fucking delighted with my purchase. Not because I’ve done anything with it that I couldn’t have done with the crappy old George, so far, but because I find it totally thrilling to own a product that does everything I could possibly want it to do, and looks good while doing it. How rare is that? It seems like everything I buy these days, from jeans to computers, ends up being a compromise at best and a total disappointment at worst. It’s been a long damn time since I’ve bought anything intelligently designed, well-constructed, and reasonably affordable. The Griddler now sits on my countertop reminding me that it is possible to really get things right in this world, and so brings me joy every time I walk past it.
Suppose we could get Cuisinart to design the next generation of voting machines?