Since I’m on something of a cooking theme at the moment, after my last post with apple and hedgehog recipes, today’s cookery-related item is a microwave. Caiti’s microwave, to be exact. If you’ve had a chance to follow her very entertaining blog about student life in Bordeaux, you’ll have seen that she’s having to use two very old, very slow hotplates in the communal kitchen as her sole means of cooking food. So her dad and I said we’d buy her a belated birthday present and get her a decent microwave oven, which I’ll take down this weekend, plus various other bits and pieces like a cool box and anti-mozzie net curtains. I know, it’s really an excuse to go and see my little girl!

We went to a grande espace (large retailer) this morning and quickly selected a Carrefour Home microwave with grill priced at €99. Buying electrical items is a bit of a complicated process in French supermarkets and we had to wait to see the electrical item guy. He was busy serving someone very slowly. We waited and waited, and after being assured about five times j’arrive (I’m coming), still he didn’t. In fact, he wandered off to the check-out with his customer. Chris mooched off to look at other electrical stuff and I prepared to power down and go into stasis until the salesman returned. But then something caught my eye. In very small letters, the price label for the microwave said, ‘Garantie 1 mois’. Now, one month’s guarantee seems rather on the stingy side for a household item costing a hundred euros. I looked at the other ovens. These all offered garanties of 2 years. In comparison, this 1 month offer looked decidedly stingy, not to mention fishy. Clearly this wasn’t an especially trustworthy oven. I called Chris back and after a brief consultation, we decided to upgrade to a Whirlpool compact microwave with grill for an extra €30 and a guarantee that goes on for an extra 23 months. However, our salesman still hadn’t materialised. We waited a little longer but eventually the collective Dagg patience wore out so we pottered off to the do the rest of our shopping and then go to But for an oven. But suddenly the sales guy hove breathlessly into view, clearly pursuing us and unwilling to lose a sale, and so we got our microwave after all, after another ten minutes or so of paperwork. Well, nearly got it. The salesman took it to the security desk. We went to the cashdesk to pay, firstly for the microwave and then, sigh, for our other purchases and then I took a thick ream of receipts and other bits of paper to the security desk. The girl there did a lot of stamping – with a stamp, not her feet – and finally we were in possession of our Whirlpool.

What a palaver!

In case you’re interested, Whirlpool is 101 years old this year. The company started out making washing machines, and that’s all it did for the first 41 years of its existence, as well as making some ironing machines too, but during the Second World War it branched out into modifying machine guns and manufacturing parts for Kittyhawks’ wings. After the war the love of diversity remained and the company made space kitchens and life support systems, among other things. So I guess that means they’re well qualified to cobble together a humble but dependable microwave.

There’s a fascinating article about Whirlpool’s history here.