Sunday 24 June 2012

With a Bimbo in his arms and a Gleam in his Eye...I blame Gordon Ramsay

Mr. Fly is a man for gadgets.
Not the ipod, ipad and ipoke sort of thing, luckily, as both of us are defeated before we start by things with buttons to press.

The mobile telephone spends more time being hurled away in despair than it does being used...because we don't know how it works.
It can - and does - play music at us, display a calendar worthy of an optician's bottom line, show imperative messages when its owners want more money, but as for calls...forget it..
It makes a noise like an authoritarian frog when the inevitable wrong number appears on the screen and on the rare occasions that we recognise the number the caller at the other end has given up by the time we work out which section of which button to press.

So he is attracted by nothing covered by the generic term 'implode'.

Kitchen gadgets are the favoured species.

I have lost count of the times I have been presented with a machine for cutting onions which always seems to involve persuading the onion to plop into it at the right angle and then risking permanent damage to the wrist while trying to force the cutting part through said onion.

Corkscrews. We have an entire battery of implements for uncorking bottles, from models made from 1914-1918 shell cases, via things with two handles which involve making sure the bottle is on a non slip surface, Swiss army knives and two pronged butler's devices. The only thing so far lacking is a sabre for the champagne.

Fruit juicers are in disfavour after it was discovered that the expensive Braun model took more time to clean than it took fruit to ripen, but in its brief span of life between leaving its carton and entering the kitchen cupboard it left its mark in local folklore.

We had picked the grapes on the vine round the house and I had them in the kitchen ready for making jelly.
The Braun, not yet in disgrace, was on the worktop.
Someone who shall be nameless decided to make grape juice.
The combined efforts of the Nameless One and the Braun resulted in a decor with a strong emphasis on purple and it was at that moment that Gaston appeared in the doorway with a bucket of lettuces for us.

Oh no, he said, coming forward in fascinated horror.

You'll never make wine like'll be here a twelvemonth.

Attempts to convince him that we were making grape juice got nowhere...
Who would make grape juice when you could let it ferment and have something worthwhile.

We hadn't long moved to the area  and to distinguish us from other British immigrants we were thenceforward referred to as the ones who tried to make wine in the mixer which at least was one step up from the couple referred to as the ones who were discovered in their underwear in the church.
They say they were sheltering from a thunderstorm. The village was not convinced.

I have had long warning of the new gadget.

The standard of sausage roll in the caff across the road from the San Juan de Dios Hospital had suffered a noticeable decline....the pastry having won its battle with the Mr. Fly cast an eye over the choices made by other customers and decided on a toasted sandwich.
The filling here was romping home by five lengths.....lettuce, tomato, ham cheese....
It cast the poor sausage roll into a shade more like Stygian gloom.

From then on, the toasted sandwich was the snack of choice, comparisons between the produce of various caffs being made and close attention paid to the items of which they were comprised.
You want the equivalent of a Michelin rating on the toasted sandwiches of San Jose...look no further.

So it was no surprise to find a toasted sandwich maker among our other purchases at the duty free store in Golfito.
It was duly delivered to the house in San Jose and brought home.

I've never had one of these gadgets, so, wondering what the little plastic cup was for, I read the instructions.
This was a mistake as they were generic for several models and mine had an unexplained green light as well as the red one mentioned in the text, so I decided to ignore it.

The hotplates washed and dried and anointed with cooking oil, we are ready for the off.

This is where the baleful influence of Gordon Ramsay comes in.
At the advent of every new gadget, Mr. Fly assumes control of the kitchen.
Things are reorganised....working methods overturned....explanations are demanded as to why I keep the alarm clock on top of the pickled onion jar.
The answer - because I can see it there when I'm timing something - judged to be inadequate.

The ideal position for the sandwich maker being the spot where I keep the slow cooker the latter is thrust into my arms and, in extremis, I put it on top of the oven housing.
I shall, no doubt, be wondering where it is later....

The fridge had been ransacked among cries of

What are you keeping THAT for?

An array of items stood ready.

I cut four slices of bread.

NO! Not slices! They just cut the loaf in half...

Well yes they do, but their loaves are the Costa Rican equivalent of a baguette and we were dealing with a torpedo shaped wholemeal number.
Still, in the spirit of the Light Brigade, mine not to make reply, mine not to reason why even if I was pretty damn sure that someone had blundered, I cut the torpedo in half crossways and in half again lengthways and awaited the next instruction.

Butter the outside. Outside buttered.
Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and mayonnaise. Duly applied.

Put them in!

I open the lid, plonk the torpedoes on the bottom plate and cannot close the top.

With cries of frustration Chef replaces me at the hotplate but cannot close it either.
He then demonstrates with a wooden spatula how to poke the torpedoes to the back of the plate with one hand while squashing the lid down with the other.
It still doesn't close, but I suppose it sticks to the batter as it does not rise again.
Chef retires to the balcony warning me not to let the sandwiches burn.

Torpedoes duly toasted we ate them and, though the bread to filling ratio needed attention (let no one mention the sausage rolls) they were surprisingly pleasant.

We returned to the kitchen.

I suppose you'd better use those slices.
Oh, and you can use this up.
'This' being the remains of a smoked fish dip I had made for  lunch the previous day.

Sandwich assembled, toasted and tasted.
Absolutely disgusting...the dip had deconstructed itself under the action of heat and had become fishy primeval slime.
I now understood the purpose of the plastic cup.

I said you shouldn't use slices.

Calm restored, toaster plates cleaned, life resumes its normal aspect until a bright idea strikes.

If I take the toaster into San Jose, Danilo and I can have toasted sandwiches for lunch on two days......that will save eight thousand colones! The toaster will pay for itself in two weeks!

So, on the Thursday morning the toaster is packed up together with butter, cheese, tomatoes ham cheese and mayonnaise and whisked away to the renovation project.

On  Thursday night I telephone to ask how went the day.

I've got indigestion.

How?. Didn't you make a toasted sandwich?

Well....I bought a baguette - the way they do it here.


Well, it went all soft and squidgy......they can't have cooked the bread was like a lump of lead...

But you ate it?

Well, yes. I'd made it so I ate it. And then Danilo pipes up and tells me I should be making it with sliced bread.

So will you?
Thinking that in this household sliced bread is usually regarded as being akin to the Beast of Revelations, something against which the door is securely barred and bolted.

I'll give it a try. I haven't bought this machine for nothing....

Friday night. The telephone call.

How was the toasted sandwich?

Much better...they must have industrial toasters in the caffs to do those baguettes...I got a bimbo and it worked like a dream.

While thinking to myself that in the estimation of most men things work like a dream with a bimbo on the scene I was a little surprised.....
Up to that point Mr. Fly's oft stated view had been that, taken overall,  the expenditure required to maintain a bimbo was well out of synch with the gratification afforded by said.

And then it occurred to me.....the leading brand of sliced bread in Costa Rica rejoices in the name of


I'll bring a couple back with me....

You do for each arm.


  1. LOL!! Superb -- we too have a few gadgets which never see the light of day from one move to the next.
    Would you by any chance like a pineapple peeler/corer? Unwrapped but never used??

    1. Well, if I make any more pineapple and mango chutney it might come in handy...though I'm pretty sure I will look at the thing and have absolutely no idea how it is meant to function - just like the latest tin opening gadget with which I have been presented.

  2. Well, there are loads of guy cooking gadgets around here. The real cookerer keeps an ey on them for a time, then I pass them in the darkest corner of the basement on my way to the garage in the morning. We do have Bimbo bread here, too. At Wall Mart.

    1. So there are are ready sliced bimbos everywhere....whoever thought up that name!

  3. Of course, you should do a full time and motion study to benchmark each new gadget...

    1. The only motion involved would be to see how far I could hurl the bimbo....

  4. Brilliant post. Love it. I'm a bit of a kitchen gadget enthusiast too. I have one of those sandwich makers and use it with half a loaf, but the bread here is softer so easier to close the lid. I have to own up to forcing the lid on two previous toasters and breaking them. You live and learn.
    I love the name Bimbo for the sliced bread. Kind of goes with our Sarkozy toilet rolls (I haven't found them on the shelves yet by the way)

    1. Oh nice...Bimbo and Sarkozy....what a pairing!

  5. So I'm not the only one who lives with a kitchen organizer. Mine unfortunately draws the line at producing anything edible, but is an expert on kitchen ergonomics.

    1. Oh yes....the why don't you move this here and that there and that will make things much easier for you....
      All that usually results is a marked deterioration in my language as I try to put a hot pot down where there now is no longer room for it...

  6. This is the best laugh I've had all day! Bimbo...I was trying to picture in my head what the advert for this sliced miracle must look like...

    I hope you and Mr. Fly are well.

    1. The picture on the pack of bread is a cross between a bear and a snowman.

  7. I have useless gadgets too. The juicer is about to be thrown out as the lip broke and the whole thing is now un-usable.

    My DB just bought one of those fryers that use 1/2 spoon of oil and it's said they do lovely chips. At €150 they should do!!

    My (his) slow cooker seems to have died after 2yrs light service. It switches on but doesn't heat. I'm wondering if a little kick up the butt would work.

    Your description of himself in the kitchen is classic. The invisible one suddenly becomes the (unwanted) saviour to kitchen organisation and sets about causing havoc. They all do it.

  8. Wonderful post. I have always liked kitchen gadgets.

  9. So funny! I have given up on kitchen gadgets now and treat all of them with deep suspicion. See, I learn from experience! :)

    1. Left to myself no more such items would cross the threshold....
      I had enough trouble tucking them away when the frenzy had passed in a four storey house and now we are living in our holiday home - much smaller and not well endowed with storage space.
      The San Jose house is much larger but my plans for its cupboards do not include deep fryers, toasted sandwich makers or any of the other clutter which I can see coming my way.
      Who the blazes needs a rice cooker!

  10. Never a dull moment in the Fly household, it would seem.

    One question: a toasted sandwich with lettuce and mayo? How soggy is that when it's done?

    1. Not at all.
      Home made mayonnaise, so not sloppy, and not too much of it and it pays to shred the lettuce in ribbon for ease of eating.
      He's now interested in adding ketchup to the mix....

  11. We were given a sandwich toaster as a wedding present, used it for a month, kept it in the cupboard for twelve years then moved. It didn't. I gather this about par for the course with sandwich toasters.

    1. I left an awful lot of gadgets in the cupboards in France when we excuse, different voltage out here....

  12. I live a sheltered life...I thought a rice cooker was an Asian street vendor.So I googled.No, I don't want one either!

    1. Give me an Asian street vendor! Now you're talking!
      I'd never heard of an electric rice cooker....and certainly don't want one.

  13. Three kids in the house and a toaster = quick, easy and tasty supper. Always sliced bread (wholemeal) - never Bimbo, which we have here in Spain too. Not sure if it's my imagination but it always taste sweet and....bimboish.

    Love the post, love the writing but think I'll keep to my own toasted sandwiches.

    My favourite kitchen gadget is my potato peeler.


  14. Potato peeler - best gadget in my kitchen! Can't be bothered with gadgets now as everything has either the wrong sort of plug, too short a lead or takes too much washing up. I can even whip cream to peaks with a knife - takes a while but usually less time than it takes to find an adaptor.
    However, I'm partial to a toasted sandwich if I can persuade hubby to make one for me - he's good at washing up too!

  15. I might have commented twice and said different things - if so, please choose which you believe, or prefer - I stick with my potato peeler after being stuck at my in-laws house for six months without one. (Despite having sent them several over from the UK when we lived there! They always used a knife and it drove me mad!)

    1. Um...I was a late convert to the potato peeler, but now I'd be lost without it. Great for garnishes even scollops mushrooms (when I can get any).

      Sliced bread here is always a bit sweet for my taste, even the wholemeal. I swear they put molasses in it.

  16. I loved this post! I tend to be from the Alton Brown school of kitchen wares: no tool that cannot be used for at least four things is allowed in my kitchen. So I have not one of these gadgets, but I did laugh at your experiences with them. And, yes, Bimbo. I have seen the tee-shirt that has their logo on the front for sale in various tourist traps . Who would wear such a thing?

    1. Who wears a Bimbo tee friend the postman!

  17. funny how different people are
    I do not like kitchen gadgets at all, only the things which I consider absolutely necessary
    but then I am a no recipe cook also..

    1. No. I'm not keen on gadgets at all...they take uproom and gather dust.
      And I'm not a recipe cook eiher, though I've looked at a few cookery books now I've moved to another food culture, and had a few surprises! Who would think that a banana pancake and a black bean puree rolled inside would be so delicious!

  18. This made me laugh out loud! I had a toasted sandwich maker once, I think we left it behind when we moved, like one of your other commenters. I gave the juicer away, scrapped the yoghurt maker, gave away the popcorn maker... I'm sure there were others too, most of them took up too much room, were a pain to clean and (with the exception of the juicer, which just didn't work very well) tended to make the task much harder than doing it the old-fashioned way.

    1. I was once presented with a yoghurt went to a vide grenier to darken someone else's life while I continued to use my slow cooker to make it.
      You hang on to Jazz...he's young and potty, just the way my Tot was...I thought she'd never learn, she was a bit rough, over enthusiastic, chewed evrythign and almost overnight she calmed down and is great.
      Keep saying know it makes sense is a great slogan for pup training!

  19. ROFl! Now I've wiped my eyes I can comment. :-) I must plead guilty to having once had a bit of a thing for kitchen gadgets, but that was long ago and I have repented in dust and ashes - usually the ashes of the toasted sandwich I tried to make in the toasted sandwich maker which kept going rusty.....

    1. The toaster is off to San Jose tomorrow...I sincerely hope it stays there....