A tin opener shouldn’t be a sta­tus sym­bol

The Guardian - G2 - - Passnotes | Shorcuts - Jack Mon­roe

Who knew the hum­ble tin opener was such a sta­tus sym­bol in mod­ern so­ci­ety? There was the in­fa­mous Mum­snet thread last year when a women’s sis­ter claimed that “if you have a tin opener in your kitchen, it means you’re poor”, with lit­tle re­gard for those so poor that they can’t af­ford one. And now the Wall Street Jour­nal has claimed that “mil­len­ni­als” are killing off the tuna trade be­cause ap­par­ently we don’t own tin open­ers.

I must be an anom­aly, as I have nine, but then I’ve just fin­ished writ­ing a cook­book, Tin Can Cook, with recipes made en­tirely from tins, and I needed some backup.

Tins with ring pulls tend to be­long to those with slightly more dis­pos­able in­come; look at the ba­sics and value ranges next time you are in the su­per­mar­ket and you will see that they re­quire a tin opener to get into them.

The irony is that those with the least money need an ad­di­tional piece of kitchen equip­ment in or­der to eat the most ba­sic food­stuffs.

My tin open­ers ranged in price from £1 for a plain and mil­i­tary-sim­plis­tic but­ter­fly style, to £16 for a bat­tery-op­er­ated lump that barely worked with any de­gree of re­li­a­bil­ity. A de­pend­able, sturdy, mid-range can opener will cost about £5, and, for many of the food-bank users and peo­ple I work with, £5 may as well be £5,000, be­cause when you don’t have it, you don’t have it. In des­per­ate times, when my old can opener packed up, I have hun­grily hacked into a tin with a bradawl and a ham­mer – an aw­ful lot of work for the re­ward of some cold baked beans for tea.

I’m cur­rently in the early stages of set­ting up an ini­tia­tive to donate ba­sic cook­ing equip­ment to peo­ple in need of it – start­ing with tin open­ers. Food banks al­ready make “cold boxes” – parcels of food with cans that all have ring pulls and can be eaten cold, such as cooked meats, baked beans, tomato soup. It’s a grim in­dict­ment of the re­al­i­ties of our times that peo­ple need to con­sider this, let alone do it.

Per­haps as part of the Christ­mas do­na­tions drive to food banks, you could con­sider sling­ing a can opener in with the tins and pack­ets. Even a £1 can opener opens a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.