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(I started writing this more than a year ago when I was stilling living in the US; left it as a draft all this time, but we are about to visit Asia, so I’d better post it before it gets really stale)

To an Asian, an electric rice cooker is an essential home appliance that is heavily used and expected to work for years.  They do indeed last for a long time.

Since we are moving to Europe soon, we have to give up our current 120V rice cooker.  Here is a chance for us to upgrade our cooker to a more advanced version (like how it goes with cell phone or laptop).  But I did not have much faith in the selection of models that are on offer in the middle of Europe.  So I asked my sister to bring us one when she came to New York to spend the holidays with us.

I know. What a thing to ask!

Being a good sister, she arrived from Hong Kong by way of Shanghai as our rice cooker-mule.  The act of bringing a rice cooker on board an airplane as hand luggage, in this day and age with size and weight restrictions, is hilarious as it is so retro. It’s what an Asian immigrant would have done back in the ’50s-’60s when electric rice cooker is either not available or exhorbitantly expensive in North America.  With all the electronics and a stainless steel exterior, it can look rather suspicious without the box.  That’s what bombs looked like in sci-fi or spy movies from the 50’s.  She said that the Shanghai airport security checked her bags twice upon discovery of the rice cooker.  Comparable models from the same Zojirushi brand are almost $100 more expensive at Mitsuwa in the US.

Well, I now have a microchipped-cooker that engages induction heating with fuzzy logic to cook rice, and makes porridge, brown rice, and sushi rice, (but not risotto, sigh).  Too bad it does not also fax or recharge my ipod.

We saw an equivalently equipped rice cooker of the same brand on sale in a Japanese grocery store in Geneva and it costs almost 700 swiss francs (US$600 plus) !


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