The Cult of Bimbi in Portugal

Bimbi Machine in Portugal

The Portuguese don’t really “do” ready meals, and that’s a good thing. However, last week we found out a bit of a secret that some expats may not be aware of; not all of the delicious dishes of feijoada (bean stew), arroz de pato (duck rice) and bacalhau com natas (cod in cream) are the result of hours slaving in the kitchen, nor indeed are all of the tasty cakes. Plenty of this food is in fact produced by a clever machine with something of a cult status in Portugal, and also, as it turns out, in Italy.

The Bimbi machine, known as the Thermomix in some countries, is an extraordinarily clever kitchen gadget that weighs, chops, sautés, cooks, steams, and even cleans itself.

This amazing little machine allows you to, quite literally, pour in fresh ingredients, program it, and await delicious “home cooked food.” It can produce bread dough in minutes, complicated chef-style sauces in seconds, and even make ice creams and sorbets.

There’s a good chance you won’t have heard of it, as it isn’t for sale in shops, and is only sold via direct sales reps, one of whom we crossed paths with over Christmas.

As an avid cook I admit to being slightly tempted by this machine despite its jaw-dropping price of nearly 1000 euros!

Since our demonstration, I have done plenty of online research about this clever gadget, which has in fact been available in various guises for several decades. Bimbi machines actually have a huge cult following, and, to my surprise, they are used in the kitchens of many top international chefs, and are especially popular (apparently) in the galley kitchens of luxury yachts.

Sadly for the sales rep, trying to persuade us to buy something while we are still licking our financial wounds from Christmas is rather poor timing, but I can’t help but think I may give in and buy one of these at some point. The main reason for this is that it will make us cook with fresh ingredients even on the days when we are too tired and jaded to do much beyond eating something lazy and unhealthy from Iceland!

However, I have one key misgiving: I adore cooking, and I especially love improvising, adapting, and tasting as I go. Trusting all of this to a machine makes me fear that the Bimbi could do for cooking what iTunes and Youtube has done for music. Although I can now listen to pretty much any song in the world within a matter of seconds, I fondly miss the hours spent trawling record shops. Similarly, while the Bimbi could allow us to pick hundreds of foods from its extensive recipe book, and have them made to perfection with no effort, could it not take the fun and the soul out of cooking? If it could, then I’m afraid I don’t really want one.

Have you got a Bimbi / Thermomix? What do you think?