Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cooking with Gas

Distribution of piped gas, town gas or natural gas, is by no means universal in France.
It is certainly available in Strasbourg & is slowly spreading to surrounding towns & villages, but it has not reached us yet.

So, if we want to cook with gas, and we do, then we need to arrange our own supply.
This could take the form of a fixed external or underground propane tank, refilled occasionally by tanker lorry.
That solution would be economical & justifiable for more intensive use, but for our cooker (top only) we make do with small portable cylinders which we can exchange at the local garage, or many shops & even farms.
Kept internally in the basement, they can be butane which would not be suitable for colder external storage.
To avoid being stuck with a half-cooked Sunday dinner, we keep a spare cylinder too, ready connected with a switch-over tap.

For years, the only portable gas cylinders, in many colours & under many brand names, have been industrial-looking all-steel jobs holding 13 kg of gas.
When full, they weigh 24 kg which is really too much for safe or comfortable manhandling & must have caused quite a few back problems for users.

Recently, there has been a spate of new-technology gas cylinders, which hold about 10 kg of gas & weigh only about 16 kg when full.
That makes all the difference for safe & comfortable handling.
The new cylinders have glass-fibre wrapped plastic pressure vessels in a soft plastic outer protection which also includes carrying handles which surround & protect the supply valve.
Connection is by a snap-on pressure reducer which is much more convenient than the old left-hand threaded screw-on connectors & remote pressure reducer.

Slightly more expensive per kilo of gas, these cylinders represent a very real progress in consumer comfort, convenience & safety.
How nice to be able to report positively!
Hopefully we will not hear of any failures from the new & as yet unproven technology.

Parting thot: "Simplify & add lightness." – Colin Chapman

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