Sitting amongst a small crowd of men preparing 200 or so satays for our recent Galungan ceremony made me reflect on the fact there was not one “time saving” method in use. The men wield knives to efficiently cut down bamboo into satay sticks; coconuts are collected from the trees, hacked open by machete and flesh grated; chickens are fresh, (yes, that means they arrive with feathers); spices are ground in the “lesung” a large stone basin; and finally the satay mix is hand rolled on to the bamboo sticks ready to be cooked over a fire fuelled by coconut shells.

the ubiquitous Balinese kitchen appliance – the machete

the ubiquitous Balinese kitchen appliance – the machete

There is plenty of friendly banter, everyone has settled in for the afternoon. The girls keep the supply of Bali Kopi going, in between making offerings. Galungan is a major ceremony bringing family and community together in the village every 210 days. So this is not a daily occurrence, but my point is that there is no thought of zipping down to the supermarket to buy pre cut satay sticks, or heaven forbid, plugging in the Thermomix to cut, weigh, and mix in a miraculous amount of time.

spices are pounded in a stone “lesung”

spices are pounded in a stone “lesung”

In our eternal quest to “save time’ are we missing out on simple pleasures?

Ok, I can hear everyone protesting… “not all of us have a kitchen staffed by Balinese girls who can rock the mortar and pestle and not even work up a sweat.” I know it’s not a reality that everyone can spend hours in the kitchen making every meal from scratch, by hand. I spent many years living a life that resulted in my fridge being a receptacle for wilted greens, sad looking fruit and not much else. Whipping up an aromatic, mouth-watering dish after arriving home from a late night flight just didn’t happen. At that time I had no idea of the existence of the Thermomix. It may have been the lifestyle saving device I needed.

“the world’s smallest, smartest kitchen”

“the world’s smallest, smartest kitchen”

My knowledge of the mighty Thermomix is second hand, garnered from discussions over meals at Sharing Bali. In fact, the subject can divide a group… those whose lives have been changed by the introduction of the Thermomix and those who are yet to succumb. There are emotionally charged discussions, often the quietest in the group surprising us with their ability to hold court discussing the virtues of life after investing in a Thermomix.

Time saving devices are relevant, but are we using that “saved time” to pursue our passions in a guilt free manner? Or are we jamming in more “busyness” that in turn leads us to look for more time saving devices? I guess it’s a matter of balance.

One of our favourite guests is a passionate enthusiast for making her own bread. A whole weekend dedicated to making the perfect sourdough is pure bliss in her world. As a daughter of a baker I know how intoxicating the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven can be. I also respect that there is “science” in creating the culture and pure “art” in the kneading and rising of the dough. So much satisfaction to be had. The scientist in us gets to brew up a formula, whilst the inner artist sculpts the dough to a work of art. Add some cheese and a glass of wine and life looks pretty good. (However, teenage boys can devour her work of art in 20 mins… I’m not sure how she copes!)

My impressions are that the Thermomix could reduce the entire bread-making scenario to a matter of minutes without a puff of flour hitting the air, let alone the floor. Nothing wrong with this if the only outcome desired is a loaf of bread arriving on time.

grass cutting is another machine-free activity at Sharing Bali

grass cutting is another machine-free activity at Sharing Bali

It’s pretty safe to say that Sharing Bali will continue to be a Thermomix free zone. It’s easy for us to make that choice. We also choose to be whipper snipper free. Personally I don’t think there is anything more nerve wrangling than the sound of a whipper snipper or other similar devices, but more importantly it takes away jobs. We have endless gardens and grass to maintain and it would be easy to take to it with an efficient machine. Instead we have a small army of women who love to spend the day at our place cutting the grass with their machetes. Their kids come to work with them, playing all day. It’s a day to chat and gossip amongst themselves. They are paid at the end of the day and the grass they have cut is divided up and fed to their cows. We all win.

I’m not suggesting we all return to village like ways. I catch my fair share of fast moving planes, I constantly flick between least five windows when I am online, trying to not waste seconds whilst info is downloading, and can text whilst riding pillion on the motorbike, but village life has taught me the value of choosing the times to go slowly and savour every precious moment.

Have your time saving devices set you free? Or created more busyness?

traditional fare – chicken and coconut sates

traditional fare – chicken and coconut sates

Savouring the thought of chicken and coconut sates? You’ll find the recipe here. Your choice to create by hand or to bring in Thermomix power.

By the way, I have absolutely nothing against the Thermomix. Who am I to go up against a device known as “the world’s smallest, smartest kitchen”?


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