FOLK who know me well will tell you that I’m a walking repository for all manner of gadgets, ranging from portable powers banks to self-defence torches.
My bulging leather satchel also has a multi-purpose Swiss Army knife, a telescopic magnet great for fishing keys out of storm-water drains and a flash drive containing information that may be relevant to the police or medics should I be ever be found unconscious in a gutter or wheelie-bin.
A visit to Casa del Duke will also reveal a great many other items I’ve been compelled to buy from AliExpress, a Chinese site which offers a cornucopia of marvellous high-tech gizmos at knock-down prices. One was a light-bulb that doubled as a Bluetooth speaker that I put in the bathroom so I could shave and shower to my favourite tunes.
I say “was” because the thing exploded a few weeks ago right in the middle of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Highway to Hell’. I was using a cut-throat razor at the time, and slashed open my left cheek. Simultaneously all the fuses blew in the apartment. I shan’t be replacing it any time soon.
Although I’ve yet to find a cure for my forays into AliExpress late at night when I’ve had a few Famous Grouses, I avoid the kitchenware section, for my lust for kitchen gadgetry died when I was packing in advance of my move to Spain. In doing so I found items that convinced me I’d lost my marbles when I bought them.
First to go into a box destined for the nearest charity shop was an a plastic gew-gaw invented to turn boiled eggs into cubes. Next in was a pair of scissors with a spatula attached. This was designed to cut pizzas and lift the slices simultaneously.
Also discarded was a yellow plastic banana slicer, a microwave omelette-maker and a wooden peanut butter and jam spreader with colour-coded silicon ends. (If you’re tempted to get one, Amazon are still selling the things for around €30.00).
A strawberry stem remover, a garlic peeler, an electric popcorn-maker and a twirling spaghetti fork were next to go.
In the end I came over with just my favourite knives, a coffee grinder, a boiled egg slicer, a vintage metal garlic press dating back to the 1950s and a hand-held electric blender.
One mistake was discarding my potato-masher, thinking that I could get a new one anywhere in Benidorm. What I did not know at the time is that mashed potatoes don’t figure large in Spanish cuisine.
Not a single store specialising in cookware had one. Then, when I was in a hardware store getting a key duplicated, I was elated to find a beast of a metal masher. It was 36 cm in length and looked like a cattle-branding iron, but boy does it ever do the job!
Yet despite the fact that most jobs in the kitchen can be done with a few good pots and pans and some quality knives, the kitchen gadget market is worth hundreds of millions, with people buying items that are not only useless, but are often an absolute pain in the butt to keep clean.