It’s been impossible to open a shopping website in the last four years without being confronted with some mediocre deal on an Instant Pot, front and center. The Instant Pot, an electric pressure cooker, cooks food all in one place faster and easier than other non-Instant pots, according to everyone. It’s been heralded as the most major home-cooking development of the last five years. It takes beans from dry to cooked in, like, a quarter of the time. Even still, please keep the Instant Pot away from me.
If I may read deep into them, Instant Pots are a kind stew, if you will, of reactions to a combination of things millennials and Gen Xers feel pressure about (lol), are terrified of, or some combination of the two. Instant Pots let grown adults mount a response to DIY homesteading cooking culture; to fulfill a need to eat “healthy” in order to stave off lifestyle diseases such as heart problems and diabetes; it represents a lukewarm backlash to elaborate BuzzFeed Tasty-esque home-prepared meals that, at the end of the day, come into being in a mostly empty apartment or house, with no one but you and your dog and maybe your nonplussed significant other to try to muster a reaction to your frozen-Thanksgiving-cube fried mashed potato balls. Instant Pot meals are supposed to be easy, fast, healthy, and balanced, a kind of Soylent-like approach to feeding oneself that also sates the prehistoric impulse to provide for a household and vaguely frugal desire to “cook for oneself.” If only we can get an Instant Pot into every household, maybe all of our problems will finally be solved.
Once we sort out all of these modern anxieties that have been pressed upon Instant Pots, it’s easier to see them for what they really are. Instant Pots are to 2018 what slow cookers were to 2008 (remember when everyone had to have a slow cooker?), but they cost four times as much. They claim to also sautee and cook rice but actually do neither well (rice in the Instant Pot takes, uhh, the same exact amount of time as cooking it normally). They are not actually much faster at cooking than regular Dutch ovens, when you account for the time that they have to slowly depressurize for many foods. They are incredibly annoying to clean. They do not do many kitchen techniques, like browning meat, as well as Dutch ovens, and cost about the same amount of money. They are another gadget that, after years of insisting to each other that it really is magical and you should get one all while internalizing the shame over the fact that we do not use our own Instant Pots very much for reasons that feel like our own shortcomings, will be abandoned on a shelf or given away or left on a curb.
If you have an Instant Pot and love it, that is fine and I am happy for you. Please do not send me another deal on Instant Pots.