There is one thing that you can be sure to find in every household in the United Kingdom: an electric kettle. There’s one in every dormitory room, squat, bedsit, flat, house, bungalow and mansion in the country. I’ve literally never been in any residence or dwelling of any kind, ever in Britain, that did not have an electric kettle.
I think most British people would be surprised to learn though, that it’s also true that I’ve literally never been in any residence or dwelling of any kind in America, EVER, that had an electric kettle. Until now- I’ve just bought one for my parents.
This is something the Brits really have right. An electric kettle is absolutely essential. Obviously its primary purpose is hot water for tea. But it also pre-boils your water for pasta, Lemsip, ramen noodles, and so much more. Boiling water on a gas or electric hob, as they do in the USA, seems very primitive once you’ve discovered the joy of an electric kettle.
That bliss seems to have eluded all 320 million kettle-less Yanks, but there I was, trying to impose this delight on my mom and dad. I’ve been staying with them for a few weeks, getting very impatient at the slow water boiling time I’ve had to endure here. So I searched high and low in local shops until I found an electric kettle. When I brought it home, my father couldn’t quite understand just what it was that I had brought into his house. He had never seen an electric kettle before. His reaction: “What the hell is that thing?!”
As I took the kettle out of the box and plugged it in, Pops watched on with a wonderment that I can only describe as being similar to that of an ape examining a monolith from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. I filled it up, pressed the switch and waited– my dad and I hovering over the contraption, me enthusiastically, him skeptically. After a few minutes some hot gurgling sounds came forth and the little switch popped up to indicate our water was freshly boiled and ready.
My father’s reaction: “Is that all it does?”