The old stuff still works…

The Oven had fought off all-comers for his spot in the sun.
The Oven had fought off all-comers for his spot in the sun.

I am the proud owner of this ridiculous piece of 70s kitchen equipment called The Little Lovin’ Fan Oven. Because apparently no other colours existed in the 70s, its colour-scheme is various shades of brown and other brown, it’s built to survive nuclear fallout and consists of about one moving part. It was given to my parents as a wedding present and, when they got divorced was handed down to me (well, more accurately… I stole it. I was a student and we’ll take anything that isn’t actually made of poo or welded to the ceiling, as any bar-owner in Grahamstown will tell you). The most amazing quality of this hunchbacked cooking throwback, is that even though it’s been glued back together more times than a Morningside housewife’s sex-toy, it still works (much the like the Morningside housewife’s sex-toy – again, only one moving part…). Not only does it still work, it kicks the ass of just about every piece of cooking equipment I’ve ever owned and possibly will own in the future. This rather belabored point is meant to go some way to show that, apart from having some seriously questionable ideas about personal grooming, those guys from 40 years ago had fairly good ideas about what works when it comes to kitchen machinery. Apparently their ideas of what to do with that kitchen machinery haven’t lasted with similar grace and hardiness.

I guess one likes to think of food as some sort of constant. An unchanging thread that currently links us as humans across the world, but backwards and forwards across time as well. The thing is that food is as subject to trends as anything else – perhaps even more so. Remember the Great Sundried Tomato Craze of the mid-90s? Our current obsession with pomegranates? “Fusion” Food? And now, Organic everything? It was watching those two teletubbies from Masterchef rather scornfully ridicule some poor well-intentioned contestant who wanted to stuff an aubergine, proclaiming that “we” stopped doing that in the 70s. This annoyed the hell out of me, because I suddenly realized that the fickle ridiculousness of “fashionable” food is threatening to leach the fun and universality out of what should be a purely pleasurable past-time without any exception (so how about you take that snot-faced attitude and go lick the ceiling of a bar in Grahamstown, Masterchef Morons, because I know for a fact that, with cavalier disregard for what “we” do, I stuffed the crap out of a tomato the other night and it was bloody delicious,). What we see as completely natural and almost universal food combinations can almost completely disappear in the space of a decade, and even the more ‘universal’ combinations are for the most part, incredibly recent ideas. Medieval cooks had very few of the spices, herbs and condiments that we take for granted today. Food was often not salted, it was packed full of honey and more often than not drowned in pastry and cloves to disguise the fact that the meat was more often than not on the wrong side of ripe. No potatoes, no rice, no tomatoes. Lots of bread, lots of cheese, lots of mushrooms, lots of pigeons, squirrels, lots of grouse, pheasants, partridge, chickens, ducks and geese.

Actually, that sounds very similar to a meal I had in Krugersdorp once.

Was *everything* is the 70s about sex?
Was *everything* is the 70s about sex?

How we approach and think about ingredients changes all the time, depending on fashions, world social trends and the inventiveness of a few famous restaurateurs and TV chefs. The thing I struggle with is trying to decide if I want to listen to that rather small group of “foodie elites”. On the one hand it’s nice to be exposed to fresh ideas and new directions, but on the other hand, dammit – if I want to have a fondue, then I’m fucking going to have one, and Gordon Ramsey can go jump up his own bum. Possibly the only way to do it would be to start a restaurant that specializes in dishes that have gone out of fashion. The centrepiece of the menu? Chicken Kiev. Starters of Prawn Ritz and little cubes of gelatin with ham in them will definitely be on the cards. Fondue? Certainly. Medieval grouse pie? Sure thing. Steak Flambe! Salads packed full of sundried tomatoes, Rice pudding, Black Forest Gateau, and entire trays of things that can be stuffed with other things.

It’s time to be deliberately untrendy, to cook and eat what we like and not to worry that the food police are looking over our shoulder all the time.

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13 thoughts on “The old stuff still works…

  1. Wow – I can’t believe there is someone else in this world with a Little Lovin’ Oven! Mine is also a hand-me-down from my parents and hardly ever gets used, but how can you get rid of a classic piece of history?

      1. My word! I recently got my parent’s hand-me-down as well – exactly the same!!I’m all in for a playdate/ cook-off

    1. I have just bought a Little Lovin Fan Oven but unfortunately the dish broke in 8 pieces in the post. I dont suppose you will consider selling yours. Annie

      1. I’ll tell you something funny – the exact same thing happened to mine – but back in about 1984! My mom just glued it back together with superglue and we just carried on using ever since. Every now and again I’ll have to re-glue a section that comes loose again, but it’s never stopped it from being probably the most important bit of my kitchen.

    2. I am from Pietermaritzburg, S.A. & I have just taken/been given my 81 year old Aunts ” little lovin fan oven” In fact I cooked a chicken (to perfection) for lunch to-day, Just love it, and went into this site to try find other recipes, as I never got the Manuel. A real energy saver. I need recipes please. Thanks Bev

      1. Hi Bev!

        I must admit I’ve never really approached my fan oven as a specialized piece if equipment, but rather as an extra oven that just uses circulated hot air as opposed to a heated element. As such it’s not like their are unique recipes for it. It probably one of the best roasting devices ever created, chicken, beef, pork belly, lamb – all retain an amazing succulence if roasted in the the fan oven that I find I never get from a conventional oven. Bread baked in it is also a fantastic winner, nice and crusty, but fresh and moist inside.

        I hope you get spans of joy from it, as I have from mine 🙂

  2. Fabulous! Count be into your group of Little Lovin’ Fan Oven owners. Or does it own me? This is my most important, very favorite appliance. Perhaps it ties with aforementioned sex toy. 😉

  3. Fabulous! Count me into your group of Little Lovin’ Fan Oven owners. Or does it own me? This is my most important, very favorite appliance. Perhaps it ties with aforementioned sex toy. 😉

  4. HA! I suddenly had visions of Little Lovin (appropriate) Fan Oven as sex toy. It didn’t last too long – mostly because it seems like one would sustain some pretty serious burns before being able to do anything useful…

  5. I am still using the oven which belonged to my Mom.I am so afraid that if it breaks I will be lost that just today I found one in a charity shop,in better condition to mine so I bought it I now have 2 little lovin ovens.

  6. WOW ! My mom gifted me a little lovin fan oven in may 1987. it was transported to delhi, where i have been living now for 28 years and i have a group of friends who really look forward to the christmas lunches i turn out in this little wonder. from roast turkeys to chickens to cakes, muffins and pies, i have made them all in this little oven. sadly a few months ago some wires burned out 😦 and i had them repaired by the local electrician who had to almost break the “dome” open to reach the wires. but he fixed it :-)))) the ceramic base has cracked and has been stuck together many times, but it still bakes and roasts beautifully. and now that i see the pics above, i’m so happy that my little lovin fan oven lhas aged as beautifully as its “siblings” elsewhere. why doesn’t tedelex relaunch this product? it’s bound to be a hit with its retro looks :-)))

  7. I just bought one at a church sale today for $2.00. What is the most interesting point about this piece of machinery is that there is absolutely no information on the internet about it. There is nothing on ebay – you google it and this is the only site that actually mentions the Little Lovin’ Oven. I love it. I saw it in the church sale and everyone thought I was absolutely nuts for wanting to spend $2.00 on it. It still works. How good, I am not sure as I have not got it home yet but I know that you plug it in – it starts up. Nothing is broken on this baby – and nothing is missing. What a fantastic find if you ask me – even if everyone else thinks I am crazy!!!

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