Cooking up a treat
The Aga, that symbol of homely warmth and good cooking, is often thought of as being quintessentially British. But its origins actually lie to the north of our shores. Jane Rogers called into the Thame store to see an AGA in action.
The AGA cooker – now occupying the centrepiece of close to a million kitchens across the world – was the invention of Gustav Dalen, a Swedish Nobel-winning physicist. Appalled that his wife and the family maid had to tend constantly to the household’s old-fashioned range in order to keep it going, Dalen brought the mind of a physicist to the problem. In doing so he came up with a thoroughly modern cooker that would take care of its own needs. And one that would also, with the passage of the twentieth century, become a design icon. Since the first AGA cooker made its appearance back in 1922 (arriving in the UK in 1929) – efficient, inventive, modern yet also appealing to the traditional heart and soul of a kitchen – there have been many more innovations: dual fuel, electric cooking, refrigeration. And then, of course, there are all those added values: superb technology, uncompromising build quality and a perfect ability to capture the spirit of both a kitchen and a home. An AGA has become more than just a cooker: it’s a way of life – easy to use and a joy to live with.
EASE OF USE
For decades, one of the defining characteristics of an AGA cooker was the fact it was on all of the time. But not so now. The new-generation models – the AGA Total Control, the AGA Dual Control and the AGA City60 – all have programmable features which mean that they are flexible enough to match any domestic environment and any home lifestyle. (The cookers, for instance, can be sited anywhere in the kitchen, including an island unit.) What’s more, the new ranges can also help you to save a huge amount of money on running costs
HAND CRAFTED – MADE IN BRITAIN
While most cookers are spray painted in minutes, the AGA cooker’s multiple protective coats of gleaming vitreous enamel take three days to apply. It’s this enamelling that helps ensure the working life of an AGA cooker is measured not in years but in decades.
Of course, the modern AGA also contains state-of-the-art technology and is subject to rigorous quality controls and adherence to the latest environmental standards.
The NEW AGA 3 SERIES offers everyday control and boasts a host of useful features including a state-of-the-art two zone induction hob complete with bridging feature allowing you to use a griddle plate or other large cookware.
There is also the option of a warming plate and a choice of oven configurations. The NEW AGA 3 SERIES also has a cast-iron hotplate which can be set to boiling or simmering and is designed to be switched off when not required as it heats up in only 10 to 12 mins. Models are available in a choice of 16 colours and 100cm or 90cm sizes offering better performance than many other range cookers on the market. And, as with other AGA heat-storage cookers offers gentle heat into the room to create a cosy AGA kitchen.
Conveniently located on the High Street, It was a crisp February morning when I called into the Thame AGA store. I was greeted by the warm convivial atmosphere of one of the ever popular demonstration days. These events are to show AGA owners new and old how to get the best out of their AGA and to demonstrate just how easy and versatile they are. The equally welcoming store manager, Jane, is an AGA devotee (naturally) and enthusiastically took me through the range of dishes served up on the day. It seems an AGA can simply do it all. From a humble toasted sandwich to roast chicken. A tasty sizzling stir fry, quiche and sourdough bread. Puddings included marmalade Bakewell tart and chocolate sponge and custard.
To be honest, I have always associated cooking on an AGA with burning logs, hard work and a limit to the dishes you can produce. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As this excellent demonstration proved. The solid build quality coupled with the simplicity of use is also attracting younger buyers. As I am sure is the financial help on offer to prospective buyers. An iconic brand that’s designed for the modern home. Built to last and easy to purchase. Food for thought?
Why not call into the store and book onto one of the upcoming demonstrations. At just £25, past AGA owners and those with newly acquired AGA’s will learn so much more about these wonderful cookers.
You can read more articles like this one in the latest edition of Thame Out.