Every time you travel, your mind opens up to something new, right? At least mine did on a recent whirlwind trip to England - more than once the old synapses were pop-pop-popping.
Lucky me, I got to stay with old friend, bon vivant and former long-time Whistlerite, Jan Gavin, at her charming home surrounded by an even more charming garden in Hampshire. It was fascinating to meander through Jane Eyre's house nearby, explore the white three-storey cocoon of the new Darwin Centre in London - and discover no nukes, at least in the kitchens I visited.
What's this?, I said the second morning at Jan's house as I spied the porridge pot sitting on the back of the stove with the remainders of the previous day's brekkie inside, waiting to be re-warmed. No microwave?
Having lived half her life in Canada and half in Europe, Jan was less incredulous and more gracious than many in her position would have otherwise been, for she well knows that one wouldn't dream of building a new house here in North America without the de rigueur microwave oven installed.
Heck, even old houses have them. Our 1926 special was renovated in 1973, complete with what must have been one of the first microwave ovens in B.C. - a shiny black and chrome Amana Radarange that looked like something from a Buck Rogers space mobile when we moved in nearly 30 years later. It still had the original owner's manual with it.
But a microwave oven for reheating porridge - or anything food-like - in Jan's equally old but renovated home? No way, she explained, no one in England or for that matter in Europe has them, at least very few, ever since Russia reported on their negative impacts, including how they interfere with the nutritional value of food.
Another old friend, bon vivant but current long-time Whistlerite, Joan Richoz, confirms same. The family regularly visit Marcel's friends and relatives in Switzerland, where nary a microwave oven is in sight.
"Not that I've been in all the kitchens in Switzerland," Joan says with a laugh. "But they're all off anything like that (microwaves).
"Plus have you have you ever seen how tiny their kitchens are?"
Of course, Joan and I realize such reportage is purely anecdotal, but its veracity lies in other considerations, not the least of which is lifestyle and custom.
To whit Joan doesn't have a microwave oven either - mainly because, like those darned Europeans, she doesn't have all this frozen food she's heating up all the time. (How well I remember one Parisian hotel manager passionately warning my friend and I to steer clear of all those, what he dubbed, tourist restaurants - every single one of them - in the Latin Quarter because they all served - quelle horreur - frozen food.)