Progress is a woman's best friend

The shops in Buon Ma Thuot, a mid-sized city in the hot western lowlands of Vietnam, not far from the Cambodian border, were full of tabletop gas ranges, a critical barometer for a certain level of development. The humble gas range, while not a full on home oven, is a great leap forward in cooking efficiency from charcoal. When an economy reaches the stage where most families can aspire to, and attain, a home kitchen appliance like this, the piecemeal clearing of forests for charcoal production wanes (although valuable timbers are still looted). Those members of the family who do the cooking are no longer at constant risk of tuberculosis and other respiratory illnesses caused by smoky cookfires. The kitchen moves indoors. This is modern efficiency, progress.

However, assuming the Vietglish (or Chingrish, for these burner units are likely made in China) on this model more or less accurately reflects the marketing thrust of the manufacturer, gender stereotypes are still firmly planted in the premodern, charcoal-cookstove era.

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