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by Slow Food USA staff member Jerusha Klemperer

Today, in the Dining Section of the NY Times, Mark Bittman and Harold McGee both approach the subject of the microwave.

Actually, I hesitate even to mention microwaves since we have this problem here in our office of getting calls from people wondering about our stance on microwaves (we don’t have one); this will mean that Google searches will start turning up “slow food” and “microwave” in the same textual vicinity and our office will get even more confused callers. Ah well.

As a city dweller who has lived with mostly teeny, tiny kitchens, I got rid of my microwave years ago when I moved into a studio apartment. Counter space was precious and a big plastic box meant no room to chop veggies, so I gave it to a friend, wondering as I did so if I’d miss it terribly. I never did.

Once, about three weeks after I moved, I wanted to melt some chocolate for brownies. I unwrapped the chocolate, put it in a pyrex bowl, and cast my eyes about the small kitchen, confused and forlorn. So I pulled out a pot, put the chocolate in the pot, and once I realized that “hey! You can, like, heat stuff on the stove!” I never looked back. In four years I haven’t felt cramped at all (well, maybe physically but my style, no my style has not been cramped).

It seems like Bittman and McGee, though gamely trying to find the virtues of a microwave for the sake of their articles, agree with me. I think, deep down, they do. No, Slow Food isn’t about being anti-microwave, but I do think it’s about knowing your food; McGee talks about pine nuts cooking on the inside but not browning on the outside, and the strangeness of needing to keep opening and closing the microwave door to assess the state of affairs, and it makes me think that a microwave gets in the way of that knowing.