Falling into Air Fry Faddism

Posted on November 14, 2023

When I was travelling on a ferry from Tallin to Finland last year, my friend, Simon, appeared quite shocked that we didn’t own an air fryer. It was a strange conversation to have as Helsinki appeared on the horizon but was said with so much intent, it stayed with me. It was a kind of cookery JFK moment. I’ll always remember where I was when I first heard about air fryers.

However, despite Simon’s persuasive pitch, I resisted. As a kitchen faddist, I have seen sandwich toasters, woks, smoothie makers and George Formby grills all consigned to history in a matter of weeks. I concluded that Simon must have still been in the air fryer honeymoon period. Perhaps he was convincing me of their greatness to justify his own haste? We’ve all spent money on a piece of crap and pretended it was ace.

Enter Mr Newton

So, I compartmentalised the air fryer and moved on. Then, last week, I was having a pint with my old friend, John Newton, and something happened. I told John had already had my dinner and he informed me he was doing himself something when he got home. It was fine though as it wouldn’t take long because he had an…AIR FYER!

Oh you’ve got one as well?”, I said. When the subject of food and cooking comes up, John is hard to keep under control. His face lit up like a child on Christmas morning as he described all the dishes he makes in what, to me, seemed a ridiculously short amount of time. John is a decent cook (better than me) and having put him up in my house for a year, I know he doesn’t compromise quality for speed. I was intrigued.

Jennifer Gives the Nod

So, when I got home I couldn’t wait to tell Jennifer. Now if I said to her, “I’ve heard those air fryers are good, shall we get one?”, it wouldn’t have gone much further. However, once I told her that John had informed he had been using one for 18 months, her interest was spiked. When John and Jennifer occasionally see each other, they often talk about food whilst I hover in the background feeling like a philistine.

Jennifer had also heard mutterings about how wonderful these things are but had been a bit sceptical. This is because she didn’t know the cooking ability of the woman who recommended them to her. Could they really perform at the level of a fan oven, at a third of the time, and with minimal washing up? Was it really possible to synchronise different items to all finish cooking at the same time. We decided it was time to find out. We lashed out just shy of £200 on a Ninja.

Well, What’s it Like?

Chicken, peppers, carrots and spuds in under 20 minutes (excuse my poor presentation)

I think we are talking ‘game changer’ here. Tonight, I chopped up some peppers, potatoes and carrots and seasoned two chicken thighs. Just 20 minutes later, I was eating roast chicken and vegetables that were synced to finish at the same time. If they had just taken up to an hour in the oven they wouldn’t have tasted any different.

With the bake, fry and roast settings, you can create the texture you want. Revolutionary cooking gimmicks have, in the past, always had flaws. The microwave, for instance, made claims of being able to create a roast effect but they didn’t really. As good as they are, I only really use our microwave for porridge or heating my coffee when it has gone a bit cold. Air fryers are the new kid on the block. They are quick, energy saving, and easy to clean. Most importantly of all, they cook great food.

They are so good, you feel like you are cheating.

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