We’ve had some unusual oven experiences in our various apartments in Spain. The first appeared perfectly normal, but only had about three temperatures, whatever the dial setting was. These were meh, hottish and blast-furnace. While I tried to choose between them, I worked on keeping track of the relationship between Fahrenheit and Celsius. What we didn’t know then was that our oven challenges were only beginning.
The second year we didn’t have an oven, much to our disappointment, but we made do and made donuts.
The third year our oven knobs had no markings, so we had to guess what to do in terms of temperature. We tended to treat the temp knob as if it were a clock face: the recipes I wrote during that time say things like, “bake at about 7 o’clock until golden.”
This year’s apartment had an oven, and the controls even had markings, but the door wouldn’t close all the way. The realtor assured us that it worked, but that if the door not closing seemed a problem, we should let her know.
My kids will tell you that I’ve always encouraged them not to stand in front of the fridge with the door open for long–imagine me baking something for an hour with the oven door slightly ajar. Our oven at home recently had trouble closing tight, and I figured out how to fix that, so I wondered if the current problem might have an easy fix, too.
The handyman who was here working on another issue poked around, said the handle screw housing on one side was broken, and that he didn’t know how to fix it. I tried a few things, but the end result was that the handle which must have been hanging on by that broken screw housing gave up entirely and just came off.
So, too, did the oven’s front glass panel, rather abruptly, falling on the floor. Thank heavens for tempered glass. Two tiny metal brackets allowed me to put it back on, but if the door was opened too wide it tended to fall off again, and I wasn’t sure how many times we could drop it on the floor before things didn’t end so well.
We went from the oven working, though slightly open, to the oven working, slightly open, without a handle, and needing to be supported with one hand on the precarious glass panel while the other hand used a hot pad to get a grip on the corner of the door to get it open, which didn’t really leave hands for either putting things in or taking things out. We let the realtor know that a new door would be a good idea.
She said getting a new oven would probably be easier than getting a new door, and would we buy one and arrange for it to be installed and she’d reimburse us? Much easier said than done, it turns out.
I’ll spare you the various difficulties, and the many trips back to the store, and say that the oven was installed today. I’m sure everything works just as it was designed to–but at first blush it’s not clear what the design is. It seems like the knob that would turn the temperature up begins at 200°C, which can’t be right. Still, we waved our hands a bit and got something baked for dinner. Given some time with the manual (and Google Translate), all will no doubt become clear.
The name on our new oven is “Icecool.” You might wonder if we had misgivings about whether it would prove an omen, but as there was exactly one least expensive oven that the owners would pay for, “ice cool” is what we’ve got.* Come to think of it, Frigidaire also makes ovens, and Hotpoint makes refrigerators. It only seems odd if you’re not used to it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an oven manual in instruction-manual-castellano to decipher.
*Not the only strange name in the kitchen: the microwave is named “ok.” Curiously, the cookbook that came with it is only in German and English. The first recipe I looked at, for Rhubarb puree, includes the direction to “bleed the strawberries and cut them in half.” Non-native instructions are always full of surprises.
[Images: El Guapo and yours truly]