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Kitchen Tool Showdown: KitchenAid vs. Thermomix

Photo by Renata Polli, my sister-in-law

The KitchenAid mixer has long been the kitchen tool of my dreams. My parents received this particular avocado-colored model as a wedding gift in 1969, and it has been a loyal servant in my mother’s kitchen ever since.

This mixer was the sturdy workhorse of my youth, a trusty companion in early baking endeavors – the high-speed beater made churning out my favorite cookies and quick breads a breeze. I can still feel the heft of the KitchenAid as I pull it out of the cabinet in my memory, and can still hear the motor purring and the beater clinking against the sides of the cavernous stainless steel bowl.

I honestly thought I would have my own KitchenAid sooner, but living abroad has temporarily postponed my dream. Not that it’s impossible to have a KitchenAid mixer in Spain, but it’s more expensive and harder to come by than at home in the States. Nonetheless, I clearly envision this iconic American kitchen tool on my Spanish countertop in the future, ideally in a bright, sunny color.

Enter the Thermomix (pronounced ter-mo-MEEKS’), the German-made, do-it-all kitchen machine, which appears to be the wedding gift equivalent of the KitchenAid here in Spain.

Thermomix sales function sort of like Mary Kay – individual representatives, typically women and often quite fervent, give demonstrations for groups in private homes and spread the word among family and friends. The number of converts continues to grow, in spite of the €800-or-so price tag.

This is my kitchen, but it is not my Thermomix. It belongs to my friend Inma, who received it several years back as a housewarming gift from her mother-in-law, a common source for the machine. In the time I have been in Murcia, I have sampled many of Inma’s tasty Thermomix concoctions – rice pudding, gazpacho, salmorejo and lemon and strawberry sorbet, to name a few. She has been telling me for two years that I could borrow the Thermomix any time I wanted, and I finally took her up on the offer.

I felt as though I was entering a cult as I opened the accompanying cookbook, “THERMOMIX – A New Dawn.” This would be an initiation into the modern Spanish kitchen, and a journey into an alternate kitchen tool dream.

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I was a bit skeptical at first, given the place the KitchenAid occupies in my heart – was I being disloyal? But the Thermomix is really a different beast – not so much a mixer as a super food processor, called a “robot” in Spanish. The Thermomix weighs, heats and whizzes foods into impossibly silky purees; it can keep time and knead yeasted doughs and incubate them while they rise. On the cold side, the Thermomix makes ice cream and velvety sorbets, perfect for hot summer days. Am I sounding like a convert yet?

The truth is, the Thermomix makes cooking, particularly anything involving grinding, pureeing or whipping, effortless. Just roughly chop the ingredients, toss them all in and crank up the dial. One container to wash, no elbow grease involved, enticing results.

Now the question is, will I have enough room for both machines on my counter?

100 Spanish-Language Cinema Artists and the Films that Inspired Them

Epiphany has passed and the Three Kings and their camels have come and gone, leaving gifts for children throughout Spain. This means the holiday season is drawing to a close here, although “Hasta San Antón, Pascuas son,” many here say, meaning the season really goes until January 17th, the day of Saint Antón. According to a friend’s grandmother, this means we still have one more week to polish off the leftover holiday sweets. (I’m still happily plugging away at my bar of creamy turrón de Jijona.)

Since early December, I have been baking (see last two posts), eating and making merry, all in the company of family and friends, which has been wonderful. But after all of this sensory stimulation, I feel the need to slow down. I long for quiet afternoons curled up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea and a good movie (and a slice or two of said turrón).

A decadent movie snack

I am always looking for movie recommendations, so was pleased to come across this article in the Sunday supplement of  the Spanish newspaper El País: Cien artistas del cine hispanoamericano eligen las 100 películas que cambiaron su vida (One Hundred Spanish-Language Cinema Artists Choose the 100 Movies that Changed Their Lives). That is no small endorsement for the films that made it on the list.

The participating artists come from throughout Spain and Latin America and include internationally recognized film directors and screenwriters like Pedro Almódovar (All About My Mother, Talk to her,…); Alejandro Amenábar (Agora,…); and Guillermo Arriaga (21 Grams, Babel,…). The list also includes well-known actors, like Mexico’s Gael García Bernal and Argentina’s Ricardo Darín. Yet the article is also a chance to discover Spanish-language cinema artists who are lesser-known on an international level.

And then there are the movies, of course. The online article has a link to a pdf file which lists each artist and his or her ten top films. There is also a condensed version, a tally of the 100 most influential movies according to the votes of all the artists combined.

Many American films figure on the list – in fact, four of the top five hail from the States, with The Godfather coming in at number one. It was because of this article that I recently saw Billy Wilder’s pitch-perfect comedy Some Like it Hot for the first time. (It just took a quick Google search to discover that this was the original English title for the number five film, listed in Spanish as Con faldas y a lo loco.)

The list of course includes many Spanish-language films, like the critically acclaimed Los Santos Inocentes, a searing look at village life in Spain in the 1960s. There is a good selection of other foreign films as well.

This should certainly get me through that bar of turrón. And perhaps change my life as well, or at least provide inspiring food for thought.