Of all the luxuries available in the modern household, cooking on gas is not one that had ever really fired me up. With the naked flame essentially very similar to the open fires used by more primitive communities, gas stoves lack the wow factor of an induction hob, or almost any other domestic innovation.
Yet this unsensational and time-old tool for meal preparation has nonetheless become the subject of heated debate with friends and colleagues all sharing tips on how to eke the most out of our cookers. Like premature housewives we compare techniques and recipes to produce plates that are edible (and hopefully appealing) with as little time on flames as possible.
Anyone who wasn't already convinced of the advantages of pasta al dente has now been persuaded by the gas saving. And slicing your veg a little thinner can cut minutes off the cooking time. I've got an advantage having recently discovered the power of a pressure cooker; meal prep now has the added excitement of knowing that if I fluff my timings I'll redecorate the kitchen with curried coconut soup.
But for all the good-humoured energy efficiency tips, there's no getting around the eye-watering lurch in gas bills. Europeans are paying more for the fuel than in any other region around the world. No matter how frugal we are, the situation is clearly unsustainable.
Even more so if cooking is your livelihood. To highlight the scale of the crisis, various Brussels restaurants will be operating in the dark this weekend – not only without lights but also running their entire operations without gas. Not to be mistaken as the latest fad, restaurant owners stress that with their energy bills tripling already the sector is in dire need of support measures.
With cold weather upon us, the novelty of cold meals will wear off quickly. Let's hope that it's short-lived.
Have you changed the way you cook? Let @Orlando_tbt know.
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