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London - For more than 80 years, the Aga cooker has been the heart of thousands of quintessentially British homes.
Permanently on and warming the kitchen, it has brought comfort and joy to those who swear by its traditional simplicity and old-style charm.
But now the Aga has been thrust into the digital age with the launch of a model which can be turned on and off with a text message.
The AGA iTotal Control will set you back £10,090. It has three ovens - for roasting, baking and simmering - all of which can be operated remotely.
It is a development of the £9,895 AGA Total Control cooker, which was the first electric Aga that could be switched on and off as the user required.
Traditional Agas - which are on all the time, guzzle up to 40 litres of oil a week and pump carbon dioxide into the air - have been criticised for being environmentally unfriendly.
Modern Agas are programmable and reach cooking temperature only when you need them.
The new model receives commands via a standard mobile phone SIM card inserted into a small box, similar to a broadband router, which is connected to the cooker by a cable.
Once the cooker is installed, you save its unique phone number into your mobile and when you wish to operate it remotely you text one of the following commands: roasting oven on; baking oven on; simmering oven on; all ovens on; all zones off.
Once the text has been sent you receive a reply saying, for example, “roasting oven on activated”.
The Aga can also be operated via an app which can be downloaded to smartphones from Apple’s app store or the Android Marketplace.
Owners can also register on a dedicated website which allows them to control the oven from a laptop.
The makers yesterday hailed it as their response to “things getting decidedly more techie in the kitchen’ these days.
“You can ensure the cooker is warm and supper will be cooked at exactly the time you need it - wherever you are in the world,” said a spokesman.
But not all Aga lovers are simmering with excitement at the new model.
Best-selling author Jilly Cooper, 75, speaking from her home in Gloucestershire, said: “I don’t believe it - it’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. I love my Aga to bits, but I can’t even text on the phone.
“Oh bless it, will I have to learn to text now? Maybe something like this will drag me into the 21st century at last.”
Miss Cooper, who is writing her latest novel about flat-racing, added: “Agas are heaven. The wonderful thing about mine is that it’s always on and I can leave it on overnight and slow-cook stews for my dogs for the morning.” - Daily Mail