The buttons one finds on a microwave that depict chicken portions, or a whole fish, or a bunch of broccoli are a complete waste of space, it has emerged.
A survey of microwave owners, in the largest study of it’s kind ever made, has found that not a single respondent had ever used the pre-set buttons. What’s more, none of them can be arsed to read the instruction booklet to find out what they are meant to be for. Microwave oven technologist Bob Thirsk says that microwaves are only ever used to re-heat leftovers and make the occasional milky hot drink. “When asked in the survey how you would defrost some chicken breasts, most people replied that they’d put them in the microwave and make a wild stab about how long to do them for, and guess at the power level. 10 minutes at 10% seems to be the favoured method, which will result in hot steaming bits and still semi-frozen bits. The rest said they’d just leave them on a plate on the draining board for a few hours.”
Thirsk agrees with the majority of comments made in the survey. “To be honest, I haven’t got a clue what most of those buttons are for either. My microwave has a button for rice. Who the bloody hell cooks rice in a microwave? And I’ve got a button for desserts. But what kind of dessert? How many portions? Does it need cooking like a sponge pudding, or warmed up like custard? What’s the difference in cooking temperature between sticky toffee pudding and poached salmon? It makes no sense at all. It’s mental.”
According to the survey, commissioned by the University of Tewkesbury, the most popular way of checking if food is properly cooked is by waiting for it to start bubbling/popping/steaming/exploding. “That would do it”, agrees Thirsk. “If you have to scrape it off the roof of the microwave, it’s definitely done.”