An AGA is a quintessential British, cast iron stove run on propane. It usually has two burners and four compartments that store heat of different temperatures. It was invented in the early 20's and was originally coal powered, which meant it had to constantly be stoked, similar to a wood burning stove. What is unique about the AGA is that it is continuously running, which means the stove is always on. I was introduced to AGAs by my dad, who is Welsh and grew up with one in his house. When our house was being renovated (it was originally built in 1745 so things are constantly crumbling), we decided to put an Aga in our kitchen instead of an electric or gas powered stove. They certainly are not the most fuel efficient and can be widely pricey, but for my dad, who had moved permanently to the States twenty years earlier was persistent. I was in first grade at the time and I certainly wasn't the one cooking dinner every night, so it didn't really matter to me. However, I never would have known at the time that, to put it grandly, the AGA stove would come to define who I am today and have an integral role in defining home for me.
As my dad was British, and the stove was British, and my dad loved to cook and I wanted to learn how to cook, the AGA fostered a space and medium for my dad and I to spend time together. As I grew up, I learned cook on the Aga, and because it is always on, I never had to preheat an oven in my life, until I came to college that is. Because it is always on, it always emits heat. There were countless winter days and nights spent curled up with a book and hot drink at the base of the stove, usually with one of the cats or dogs sleeping next to you. The warmth from the oven attracted all members of the household, and often the rug space at the base of the stove was occupied by more than one pet. On top of the stove there is a warming plate, which often times in the winter, a person would be perched on top of with some tea. The kitchen was always a cozy and warm space, which would draw people in and start conversation. So many people and pets, including hamsters, have enjoyed the warmth of the AGA.
While I can cook perfectly fine on electric and gas powered stoves (at least I think), they just don't create the same experience for me that an AGA does, one that fosters coziness, comfort, conversation, creation, and love. And I am realizing the less time I am able to spend at home, especially after graduation, the less time I have with the AGA, to cook, to sit, to savor. Maybe there will be another one in my future.
This is a picture of my dad and I cooking over Thanksgiving, with the infamous AGA in the background.