10 August 2007

About Australian Appliances

Perhaps ‘weird’ is too strong a word, employed by myself in a frustrating moment of confrontation with variation from that which I have grown accustomed and complacent. Since the mind is trained at an early age to observe contrast, I cannot help but catalogue the many ways in which American household appliances are superior to those down under.

For some reason beyond my comprehension, Australian apartments come furnished with a clothes dryer but not a washing machine. Despite the abundance of discarded washers along the roadside, we opted to purchase one second hand in the hopes that we would be assured a higher quality. Our laundry alcove featured a drain in the floor, which we naturally assumed was for the drain hose of the washer, but when we tried to fill the tub, the water would simply drain out. Fuming about our poor deal, we were just on the verge of calling a plumber when it occurred to me to elevate the drain hose to create back pressure which might allow the tub to fill. Thus by tying the hose to the faucet of the laundry sink, we were able to overcome this eccentricity and save ourselves from being the subject of spirited conversation during the plumber’s happy hour.

The washer has an uncanny ability to tie our clothes into complete knots. No matter how large or small the load, the clothes emerge twisted and mangled and wrinkled beyond recognition. Since the dryer tumbler is slightly smaller than a peanut butter jar, the wrinkles become cemented permanently into the fabric. I am of the opinion that this design is purposeful, thus encouraging the use of environmentally friendly, carbon neutral air drying. Indeed, Aussies in general are very fond of air drying, and all homes feature clothes lines. Furthermore, nearly every apartment balcony sports some sort of drying rack. We even have one, found on the side of the road of course. But since is only holds about five pairs of underwear and three socks, I have yet to appreciate its full utility. And there is no way to air a set of sheets on it…

Our refrigerator was also purchased second hand from a charming old man who had received about 50 calls, but saved it for me since I was the first and my need was urgent – we were living out of a borrowed Esky - with ice at $5 a bag! At the time, we were driving a tiny Hyundai hatchback rental, and I immediately appreciated the narrow design of Australian refrigerators, as we were able to stuff it inside the vehicle. Since we are now busy and gainfully employed and take-away food plays a major role in our diet, I have not been bothered by the compact interior, but stocking in a slab of beer is much like solving a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

Our new apartment has a gas cook top (Hallelujah), but all Australian ovens are fan-forced electric. Supposedly this makes them more efficient, but I cannot get past the notion that heated air forcibly blown across my chicken will dry it out. I gained confidence from a good read of the owner’s manual, then discovered with frowning amusement, that both the symbols and numbers had eroded from the stainless steel surface supporting the indicator knobs (such was the case at our last apartment, too and clearly represents a flaw in their paint qaulity). So while the instructions assure you that using the setting featuring a half dashed circle surrounding a solid circle at 180 degrees will guarantee a perfect roast, it is pure guess work on my part. The instructions also issued a firm warning against opening the oven door to check for doneness but promised that perfection would come with repeated experimentation. Do I need to explain why I find that weird?

But the best part is that our new kitchen is furnished with a highly coveted brand of appliance, such that the rental listing actually boasted their inclusion as a highlight of the property. This brand name serves as an endless source of amusement to me, but then you already know how easily amused I am. They are called Smeg. Guess what I call them…

3 comments:

Eddie said...

Smeghead?

The Prof said...

I hate our Smeg appliances! Until I read your post I thought Smeg was probably the choice of the cheap landlord, but to find out that it's advertised as a feature of apartments in Sydney has me really confused...

Florida girl in Sydney said...

Amen sister, the appliances suck.