I Was Afraid of Having a Smart Speaker in My Kitchen... Until I Got One
Sure, Alexa's listening. But isn’t that actually just what you need in your house—and your life?
I fought the Amazon Echo for a long time. You see, my husband and I aren’t your run-of-the-mill tech-phobes—we are defiantly analog, old-school people. Consider the fact that I still have an active landline—a landline!—in my house, and it’s a wall phone in my kitchen with a long cord so I can walk around and talk. I also still have an answering machine. We even re-attached the original, circa-1907 speaking tubes in our walls, which is really just one step up from soup cans and string.
So, the idea of having a smart device to chat with in my home—one that is from many reports likely eavesdropping on my conversations in order to effectively market me more stuff I don’t need to buy—was the last thing I wanted.
But then a friend gave us an Amazon Echo as a gift. What could we do but install it and try to make peace with it? I decided to place it in the kitchen, where I spend most of my alone time, figuring I could use it to play my podcasts, and maybe connect it so that it could answer my phone when my hands were in the dough. It took maybe a week before I remembered it was there.
And another week before it became indispensable.
Alexa as Kitchen Helper Extraordinaire
Other than serving as a delivery service for podcasts and news, Alexa has been an unexpected boon of a helpmate in my cooking life. I can ask her to convert imperial to metric measurements and temperatures and vice versa, making my life so much easier. She is a math whiz, so I can have her multiply amounts for me when doubling or tripling recipes. If I am in the middle of something and discover there is an ingredient missing from my pantry, I can ask if she knows of a good substitute; ditto when I am looking at recipes from other countries and cultures that might have a different name for things.
Alexa as the World’s Smartest Dinner Guest
She has also become a seamless bonus guest at our kitchen dinner parties or cocktail hours. What was the name of that guy in that movie? Alexa knows. Who wrote that song? She has all the answers. No more do any of us reach for our phones in the middle of eating just to answer a burning question—we can just ask the air and the air responds. But more importantly, we can ask her to play music for us and alter the volume without ever leaving our seats.
Alexa as the Perfect Spouse
Running out of something and asking her to order it is a great feature, obviously, but one I am still getting used to. I do love, in this day and age of porch pirates, being informed when a package has been delivered, so that I can attend to it quickly. We even got a small Echo Dot for my husband’s office to serve as an intercom between us when he is working and I am recipe testing, for those quick questions that one always seems to need answered. I still haven’t gotten used to not saying please when asking for something or thanking her when she gives me a piece of information, and she never acknowledges politeness, but we are cohabitating as well as any couple might.
And I admit that now, my cooking wouldn’t be the same without her.