The continuous, steady heat of an AGA is a dog’s delight
Until recently I knew little about the extraordinary cast-iron cooker known as an AGA, but for the past three months I’ve lived in houses with AGA kitchens, so I’m now something of an expert.
The AGA was invented in Sweden but since 1957 has been produced exclusively in the UK. AGAs are now ubiquitous in rural kitchens. Most owners claim to love them, but that’s not surprising as they cost so much — prices start at around £8,000 — that few will admit that buying the oven was an expensive mistake.
The AGA should really be a subject for a cookery column, not one devoted to gundogs. I agree, but that would be overlooking the fact that many thousands of dogs in general, and Labradors in particular, spend much of their lives stretched out in front of one.
I am even convinced that Labs have developed a special relationship with the AGA, and that an animal behaviourist could write a fascinating PhD thesis on the subject.
Gundogs love an AGA in particular
The attraction of an AGA to a dog is simple: it radiates not only warmth but real heat, and dogs do like to be toasted. What’s more, it’s a continuous, steady heat that doesn’t fluctuate, so the dog can position itself close enough to the oven to stay really warm without getting seriously overheated.
Cooking on an AGA is an acquired skill that I have been working on, with limited success. It is great for getting a nice crispy skin on a roasted mallard, but how do your bake a cake? The main challenge for me has been getting close enough to the AGA in the first place, as invariably there’s a dog or two sprawled out in front of it. The real problem I have with an AGA is that as a conservationist I can’t come to terms with the huge amount of energy it consumes.
An AGA runs continuously, gulping diesel or consuming kilowatts of electricity. It’s like leaving your car with the engine running all the time. That, of course, is not of concern to a Labrador. All dogs love an AGA.
Across the dog-owning fraternity there is one debate that always brings out a strong difference of opinion. Where should the dog(s) live? In the house…
Tony looks at ways of keeping a hard-working gun dog happy during the season.