I’d like you to close your eyes and imagine a one-bedroom apartment in an English town, with very little storage space, but an awful lot of useless, neglected kitchen gear. In this apartment is the story of my need to self-improve by buying things, told via the medium of kitchen accessories and cooking tools that are weary with years of non-use, and bitterly unloved. In the warm cupboard where our hot water tank sits lives the waffle machine I bought for my boyfriend three Christmases ago. (I fact-checked this on my Amazon account. It’s been three years.) I had dreams of sweet, doughy Sunday morning breakfasts together, but the waffles this thing makes come out thin, crispy and disappointing. That waffle machine has seen all my shoes (it’s a multi-purpose cupboard) but only one breakfast session. The idea of cleaning it after it’s let me down with flying-disc waffles is salt in the wound of buyer’s remorse.
Next up is a Nutribullet that was used feverishly in the first two months of ownership. It was a steal thanks to a friend who worked at a luxury kitchenware shop getting it at a great discount. I was smugly blending everything I owned with visions of being the healthiest smoothie drinker in the land—a proper smoothie drinker, I told myself, who also blended green vegetables because of H.E.A.L.T.H. It’s two years later, and the only difference is that I’m no longer 70 percent liquefied spinach because the Nutribullet is gathering dust next to the toaster.
Somewhere else in my apartment sits a coffee machine. It’s actually on a rug on the floor, up against the wall, because I’ve exceeded the limits of my tiny kitchen. That was another steal after a friend cleared out their house for moving day and palmed it off on me. No, it doesn’t fit anywhere, but it makes sophisticated hot drinks and even steams the milk. Did I mention I don’t like coffee?
The food you eat defines you. Culturally and economically of course, but literally, as well because it defines the shape of the body that fills your jeans every day. There’s a correlation between the things you buy to put in your kitchen, and the person you become in life.
Or at least that’s what my brain has been telling me for years. Full disclosure: My brain is known for wanting incredible successes in life, but also despising work. My brain sometimes lets me sit in my apartment for days without showering by coaxing gullible loved ones to fetch food for me, like a manipulative sloth. One time it made me eat instant noodles for a fortnight until I got so sick I presume I had some form of scurvy. My brain is not the most reliable or responsible guiding hand.
I don’t need a spiralizer. I don’t. Even though curly fronds of zucchini in my morning omelet would be fun with a capital F, and it would help me eat more greens, thus embodying my goal of Being a Better Person. Heck, it’s not expensive. It’ll fit somewhere in my home. Once again, the voice in my head wins. It’s stupid but wily, and it likes to buy things because it’s been brainwashed by society. (Shakes fist.)
It’s the reason I own a cheap hand mixer that has 10 speeds and every one of them is fast enough to take off a finger. It’s the reason I bought an all-in-one breakfast griddle pan for my dad that is, in hindsight, the largest piece of cooking equipment I've ever seen and I have no idea where he's going to store it. And I’d rather not talk about the handheld soup and smoothie blender that spits hot liquid into my eyes the few times I’ve dared to switch it on.
Each time this happens, I sincerely believe in the transformative power of the stuff I’m acquiring. And yet, just like a wrapped episode of The Simpsons, I inevitably revert back to my original state after a few misadventures. This new piece of tech will no more likely overhaul my life than the last ill-thought-out kitchen purchase.
As I finish writing this, my colleague has messaged me to let me know that my new fruit infuser water bottle has arrived at my desk. I know the lesson hasn’t sunk in and somehow I feel better being a self-aware slave to consumerism. Nevertheless, tomorrow morning, I’m going to have delicious, life-affirming lemon water, and—for at least two weeks— I’m going to feel like a first-class human being. Sure, I never learn. But I have fun along the way, I guess.