The rice cooker that didn’t cook

As you know, I like rice. So of course, I brought along a rice cooker to Korea.

He’s a cute little guy, a mere 3-cupper. A friend gave me a power transformer to convert the 220-volt outlets in Korea to the 120 volts my cooker needs. The only hitch is that my rice cooker is a 300 watt rice cooker, and the transformer’s max is 300 watts.

Would it work? At all? For how long?

Back at home, I couldn’t test it because I didn’t have any 220 V outlets. So that was the big decision. Do I take the rice cooker, knowing it might not work? More importantly, should I try it in Korea, knowing that if my transformer dies, I won’t be able to use it for my laptop and hair clippers?

It was an intense decision, but I decided to brave it. I brought my rice cooker.

So here I am now in Korea. I walked to the local E Mart, which is the Korean version of Walmart or Meijer, and bought 10 kilograms of rice. I felt pretty triumphant since it was the first real purchase I’d made here, and since I carried it home on my shoulder like it was a fallen war hero.

Back at my place, I measured out three cups of rice, added the water, plugged the transformer into the wall, and then plugged my rice cooker into the transformer.

Now to press the button down.

The first thing that came to mind was my computer. I’d used the battery earlier in the day, so I thought about charging it up, in case the transformer blew.

Do you have faith that this is going to work or not, Marsh? I thought. All right, I’ll just go for it.

But I said a prayer first: “God, help this to work.”

Enter the fateful moment. I pushed the button down.

Nothing. The little red light didn’t turn on.

I popped the button back up and tried again. Nothing.

Hmm, I thought, Is that light supposed to turn on when it starts or when it stops?

I didn’t know. I’d only used it once before to see if it worked when I got it.

I think it must turn on when it finishes, to let you know it’s done. It’s red after all.

I looked down at my watch. 2:52. I decided to give it until 3:00. I pulled out my chair and waited.


Shoot, if this doesn’t work, it means I dragged this thing all the way out here for nothing.

My watch again: 2:54.

If this doesn’t work, I can always buy another rice cooker. Or maybe I can find some other American teacher who’s leaving Korea and willing to give me his.

Just wait a few more minutes to decide.


What a waste! I can’t believe I brought this stupid pot all the way from Kentucky.

2:56. The time made me nervous.

Where am I going to dump this rice? If it just sits there in the water, it’s going to get nasty. I don’t have a proper trashcan or really anywhere to dump it.

This is lame.


Oh yeah, I can still cook rice with the two pots I have, like they did for hundreds of years before rice cookers were invented. Oh, but those are teflon pots I have, probably not the best for cooking rice.


How am I going to get all the rice and water into one of those pots? That’s going to be a mess.

I had to see the time again. 2:59.

Ah, stupid rice cooker. What was I thinking? Why didn’t God let it work?


Okay, I guess I’ll check it now.

So I walked over to the pot and felt the lid. Nothing, as cold as ever. I pulled the pot out of the cooker to feel the burner. It felt pretty chilly down there. I touched the burner. Nothing.

Great, now what?

I sat back down, lower than I’d sat before.

I looked at the transformer again. I may have sneered. I hope it still works with my computer, I thought. It better.

Then I remembered. Back when I ‘d plugged my computer in, the battery had switched on and off. The outlet wasn’t great, and the plug didn’t always make a strong connection.

When I had noticed that on my computer, I remember thinking to myself, You know, Marshall, you really need to remember that. Otherwise, that lame connection might ruin your battery.

But I’d forgotten. Hurray for lame connections! The rice cooker had another chance.

I jumped onto the bed. Here’t goes. I jammed the plug into the outlet as far as it would go. It only budged a centimeter or so. But it was enough.

The red light turned on.


I had to play with the plug a little to get the light to stay on, but eventually it did.

I sat back down in my chair, feeling about as awesome as I’d ever felt in Korea. So of course I picked up my computer and wrote this. Because I like rice and I like writing.

About half an hour later…

Click. The button popped up. The light turned off. Yes, the light turns off when it’s finished. My rice cooker didn’t cook the transformer, but it did cook the rice.

Nice. Time to eat.