Letter to a robust and modest servant
Hand or mechanical rotary beater, metal or plastic, 1950s
Dear Hand Rotary Beater...
May I call you Jeeves? Reginald, that’s right, since 1917 the epitome of the idealized virtues of the English valet. A human cousin of yours, I believe, with whom you share these wonderful qualities, a family trait since the Victorian era, that are the pride of a faithful servant: loyalty, reliability, discretion and strength. As Lord Baden-Powell's scouts, your motto should be engraved in gold letters in the red plastic of your ingenious handle: ‘Be prepared!’ To whip egg whites into beautiful peaks. To whip up an omelette. To whip cream. Or to emulsify vegetables into soup. You are the King of Mousse! The Emperor of Zabaglione! The Phoenix of well-run Kitchens! But I digress... emotions, no doubt, conjured up by the memory of so many culinary sensations, humble or extravagant. It is to you that I owe my love of food.
So, Dear Jeeves it is. The origins of your family are lost in the mists of time... noble and old family of loyal servants, the Hand Beaters. From the most humble to the most sophisticated, we find representatives all over the planet, and in every era. Your branch appears to go back to an American invention of the middle of the 19th century. But your origins are muddled, with several inventors claiming the paternity of this improved model with rotating parts, which quickly became an affordable ‘must have’ essential to every household. You are yourself, my dear Jeeves, a sublime model typical of the 1950s, in this cream colour so loved by the cooking appliance manufacturers of the time. But with a touch of glorious bold red: the triumph of innovation of ‘Les Trente Glorieuses’! A marvellous example of the emerging age of plastic in a world bursting with youthful energy, turning its back on the dark past that marked the beginning of the 20th century... and that had yet to discover, and would be horrified when it did, that this now ubiquitous material would organize itself into a giant floating continent heading wherever the current decided to take it.
Dear, dear Jeeves: your generation has been dethroned by pot-bellied electrical appliances that whip, slice, dice, grate and knead with an implacable and robotic efficiency. But you remain ready to serve, humble and proud, in your plasticized-oh-so-easy-to-wash livery, determined to prepare for us for a very long time, should a loving hand wish to revive old memories, culinary delights to which you have been able to remain an irreplaceable servant. Jeeves, I adore you!