The other day I came home from work to find the lid of a pot I usually use completely charred. The plastic handle was melted into an unusable glob and the once-silver metal surrounding it was blackened. My first thought was that I had mindlessly left the stove on, caught the lid on fire, and almost burnt the entire apartment complex down.
I approached my Chinese roommate, half expecting him to become angry at my careless mistake, but instead he started giggling (yes, giggling) nervously and averted his eyes from me in embarrassment. After I pestered Jake to tell me what happened, he finally confessed that he had put a bowl of porridge in the microwave and covered it with the metal lid. He expressed genuine surprise at the small explosion that had caused in the microwave.
I never realized this, but where microwaves are commonplace kitchen appliances in an American home, Chinese people are not as familiar with them. After asking, the majority of Chinese people I know here have only owned a microwave for a year or so. Luckily, Jake has me to explain the dos and don’ts of microwave-ing.