Grab half a pizza......Apr 5, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
There are so many reasons for angst in life circa 2000, choosing a microwave should not be one of them. In fact, if there is a no-brainer purchasing decision, buying a microwave oven is it.
Here are the basic steps:
1. Measure the surface upon which the microwave will sit, first making sure there is an electric outlet nearby.
2. Pretend to open the door of a phantom microwave. Note whether pulling the door open to right, or to the left, will allow for an easier reach to the refrigerator.
3. Take two large slices of pizza out of the refrigerator. Wrap them in something that will keep any grease or tomato sauce from staining the shirt you are wearing on the buying trip.
4. You have two tasks to perform on the drive to the store. First, make sure that you and your significant other are on the same page on color choice. Second, you need to go over your life up to this point in careful detail. Ask questions such as: Have I ever even seriously considered making meringue shells in a microwave? And if so, was I drinking at the time?
4. Appliance stores are pretty much kaput. You'll probably be buying the microwave in a big box store. This being the case, and the object of this exercise being sensible living through wise use of financial resources, you will want to march straight past the CDs, video games, 67" television sets, and laptop computers. Appliances will be in the rear of the store, past all the good stuff.
5. Signal to the salesman (they're always men) that you don't understand English well. Find the least expensive microwave likely to accommodate the carefully wrapped pizza you have brought along. Notice how many watts it is packing. If the number is close to 1,500, it has a little turntable, your pizza fits in nicely, it will fit on your counter, and you don't find it's appearance abhorrent, you have found your microwave.
6. Gesture to the salesman that you have made a choice. When he points out that the oven you would like to purchase will never do justice to a wedding cake, Thanksgiving dinner, or crown roast, allow a tear to slide down your cheek, grasp him gently on the arm and say: "Oh yes, I know that." or something equally vague, but strange enough to forestall further attempts at salesmanship.
7. On the way to the cash register, the salesman will do everything but cartwheels to get you to purchase a four-year extended warranty. If you express surprise at the price of this appliance insurance, he will go on all night about how it is an unbelievable bargain. Did you know you will be able to bring the thing in twice a year for a cleaning? Did you know that you will be eligible for a loaner microwave? Did you know that if the storm of the century passes directly over your house and the sucker is blown into the next county, the microwave will be replaced, actually replaced.
8. Do not let things reach this stage. The moment you identify the microwave that you want to heat up your pizza, pop your popcorn, cook your carrots, and render your frozen dinner at least partially edible, tell the salesman how you will be paying and inform him that your religion/culture/mother (choose only one) forbids you from even hearing the words "extended warranty" (spell it out). Put a finger to your lips, then cover your ears to demonstrate the seriousness of this issue.
9. Done. Walk straight to the package pick-up counter. Whether you take the pizza back home is up to you.
Here is the rationale behind this refreshing simple plan. First, it is possible to cook everything from a layer cake to a turkey in a microwave, but the results are not wonderful. And it is just as easy to cook meals, baked goods and meat in a standard oven. It is so easy to get caught up in visions of gourmet microwaving when buying time rolls around. Why, some people, particularly under the bright lights of the appliance showroom, even fantasize about using more than two of the three dozen buttons on the most upscale model's touchpad.
It's not going to happen. A 1994 Family Circle survey found that "warming cooked foods is the primary usage of microwaves." And that was six years ago. Everyone I know uses a microwave primarily for heating up pizza, popping popcorn, cooking vegetables, including baking potatoes, and reheating Italian restaurant take-out. I did once teach with a woman who was seriously into actual microwave cooking, but that was 1983, and even then the general consensus was that she was a little strange.
Power is important. At this point, 1,500 watts is the top on the range, and the closer your microwave is to that level, the faster your Stouffer's dinner will be ready. Size matters, too. While microwaves are not great at producing duck a l'orange from scratch, they are amazingly helpful at putting a dinner of string beans, baked potatoes and reheated meatloaf on the table in 15 minutes. The more of these items that can be squeezed in at one time, the better.
Microwaves are the most durable electrical devices known to man. I have never known one to break. An extended warranty will be money down the disposal in nearly every case. And if you go for the no-frills model, it won't matter much anyway. A fine replacement can be had for $100 to $150, maybe less, and fully $300 to $400 under the price the devices, ranked number one convenience item in the hearts of Americans, commanded when the first oven was put on the market 33 years ago.
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