One day, I snuck out of Hogwarts with Raven Malfoy in order to purchase some Muggle candy for Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween (as I only had some Muggle currency and Raven didn’t have any money of any type). Once we were in Hogsmeade (via a secret passageway Raven found), we apparated to a Muggle supermarket near Hogwarts. After Raven commented on the Muggle’s strange wardrobe choices, we started searching for the Halloween candy section, when we briskly walked past the kitchen appliance section.
I pondered out loud, “I wonder where the candy section is…” When Raven did not reply within a few seconds, I turned around to see if she was okay, only to find her staring in awe at a microwave. Finding this a tad strange, I slowly approached Raven.
“Ummmm Raven, are you okay?’ I cautiously asked.
“Wow Annie! These … things are amazing! Have you ever seen them before?!” Raven exclaimed as she experimentally opened and closed the nearest microwave.
Long story made short, I was awfully surprised and intrigued that wizards and witches don’t normally use microwaves. I mean, how in the world would they heat up last night’s leftovers when they are too lazy to cook a whole new meal? Well, through extensive research from Muggle cookbooks I found in the Hogwarts library to asking wizards and witches how they normally cook, I have an answer!
So, to start, I decided to ask Raven herself. While she was still admiring a gleaming microwave, I said, “So, because of the Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration, we can not conjure food from thin air, and besides, a transfigured object doesn’t change the nutritional value or components of the food itself. Plus, I do know that when wizards or witches transfigure an object, it doesn’t last forever. So, how do wizards and witches even cook food?”
After patiently waiting for Raven to finish examining the microwave (and repeating my question a few times), Raven said, “Well, we can summon it if we know where it is, but usually we don’t do that. It would freak Muggles out to see food mysteriously floating through the air. During the school year, I’ve heard House-Elves make the food down in the kitchens, then obviously it is magically moved to the tables in the Great Hall. When I’m at home and I cook, ovens are needed to thoroughly cook food. No charm can properly do that without burning your food to a crisp, like Incendio. However, when a food needs to be warmed up without being completely burnt, the Hot Air Charm heats food in a matter of seconds, way faster than… this quaint Muggle object.”
So, it’s known how Wizards and Witches can cook food without microwaves: the Hot Air Charm. However, that is only part of the mystery solved. The main question is: what really is a microwave?
Microwaves were invented in 1945 by a Muggle whose name was Percy Spencer. Percy was producing high-intensity microwaves (a type of radiation on the Electromagnetic Spectrum) for a radar when he noticed a chocolate bar he had in his pocket was melting. While I’m sure he was a tad disappointed, he was also intrigued. As the room he was in was room temperature, Percy inferred that the tragic case of his melting chocolate bar was caused by the microwaves being produced. To further his investigations, he brought in kernels of corn to see what would happen. As you might have guessed, the corn kernels popped, forming popcorn! Wanting to experiment, even more, Percy decided to see what would happen to an egg. Let’s just say what happened to the egg wasn’t so egg-scravagent.
The Muggle company Percy Spencer worked for, called Raytheon, used the knowledge they acquired to create the early microwave for Muggles! However, there was a small flaw in their design. Their microwave was huge and bulky, standing about two meters tall (way taller than I even pretend to be!) and weighing around 340 kilograms! It wasn’t until about 22 years later, in 1967, were microwaves reimagined to be more realistic, which also happened to closer resemble the microwaves Muggles use today.
So, while using a microwave at first may seem exceedingly daunting with the countless number of buttons, the process is actually quite simple. To start, you open the microwave door and set a microwavable food on the turntable (and no, you’re not allowed to sue Quibbler if you put an egg in a microwave to see what would happen). Then, close the microwave door and enter in the time you want to microwave your food by pressing the buttons with numbers. For example, you would put a bag of popcorn in the microwave for “2 to 4 minutes” (as this is the suggested time stated on a popcorn bag), so you could choose a number smack dab in the middle: 3 minutes. It is important to heat anything for only the recommended time, otherwise, your food could burn, explode, or even catch on fire (helpful tip: under no condition put foil in a microwave! Raven and I learned that the hard way when we were experimenting). Then, simply press the “Start” button, wait for the microwave to make a beeping sound (indicating the microwave is done cooking your food for the set time you entered) and take out your newly warmed food by either pressing on the “Open” button or by pulling on the handle of the microwave (depending on the brand and design of the microwave).
Microwaves can be up to 25% faster at heating up food then ovens. However, why is that? Well, microwaves use, well, microwaves (the type of radiation), which have a length and frequency that are better absorbed by the water, fats, and sugars that make up food. When these molecules absorb the radiation produced by a microwave, they “become excited,” hence their energy produced is increased and as a result, the temperature as well. On the other hand, ovens use gas or electricity to produce heat, only heating up the outermost centimeters of a piece of food. Then, the heat transmits throughout the food via thermal conduction (the process where heat spreads through physical contact). Therefore, while ovens may be more thorough than microwaves, microwaves mean less time starving!
In conclusion, a simple Heating Charm is much more effective and less time-consuming than using a microwave. However, it has always been fascinating to many Witches and Wizards how Muggles manage without magic and make all these crazy inventions, even though that was actually how I lived for the first eleven or so years of my life. As many witches and wizards say, “I wonder what Muggles will come up with next!”