I have always felt that my familyis unique, perhaps a bit odd. There is something outlandishlyspecial and nonconforming that separates my house from therest of the Colonials on the block, as well as most ofAmerica: we do not own a microwave. This happens to be alifestyle choice I've never resented my family for imposingupon me. However, it baffles most guests. Many a time I havebrought a friend home and been in my kitchen searching therefrigerator for a late-night snack of leftovers. We'll findthe chicken casserole and my companion will ask, "Where'sthe microwave?" as his eyes scan the room for thetechnological terror.
"Sorry, we don't own one;we'll have to use the oven," I respond, as I have manytimes. Reactions vary. Some just stare blankly at me, but Ican detect the whirling inside their brains. Others decide Iam joking and proceed to search the kitchen for the hiddendevice. It perplexes people that I have a modem but nomicrowave.
I view food as an art form. Like any otherartist, I am offended when people butcher my art. Having thequintessential Italian grandmother, I have been spoiled whenit comes to food. I have learned to express myself throughcooking as with acting, guitar playing and writing. Itinvigorates and inspires me. I find satisfaction in knowing Ihave perfected the art of the omelette. The microwave is theultimate threat to this expressive medium. I can't movethrough my life simply heating up the achievements of others!I could not survive, let alone be true to myself, if I neverlet myself be an individual.
The ease with which aperson can radiate a TV dinner to the level of barely edibleis terrifying. Is our society so rushed that it is reduced tothis? I believe in using my time efficiently, but I will notcompromise my values to save a couple of minutes.
Besides, cooking has given my family a tradition thatbinds us together. Often my brother and I will give my mothera break from her hectic schedule by taking over the kitchenfor an evening. On some occasions our triumphs are gloriousand the family revels in our mastery of the craft. Other timeswe are not quite as successful. But the process is just asimportant as the product. I've learned to laugh at myself.There is nothing more humorous and touching than serving abone-dry meatloaf, watching them wince with every bite andbeing too polite to reprimand me for ruining their meal. Tastyor not, it brings us together.
At times, life withoutthe microwave will become arduous and one of us five childrenwill suggest buying one. However, we have never gone throughwith it, and never will. We refuse to take the easy way out. Arecurrent vision of being force-fed pre-cooked sausageburritos bathed in grease is horrible enough. As with otherpassions, cooking is something I need to put my all into tofeel gratification.
Technology has done wonders for ourmodern world. It has expanded the lines of communication farmore than anyone could imagine. The air bag alone has savedmillions of lives. These advances are indispensable. I wouldargue that a microwave is not. We must remain true toourselves and not let nuked lasagna take over the planet.There is nothing like a home-cooked meal!
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.