I used an induction hob for the first time today, and it was an unexpectedly enchanting experience.

I have been aware of the idea of cooking with induction for a while. In the debate about cooking with natural gas versus electricity, induction inevitably gets presented as the clear winner. “Yeah, the old electric stoves sucked, but induction is great!” I’ve heard.

I never quite understood the hype, because I quite literally didn’t understand what an induction hob is.

Until now, I had mistakenly thought that I’ve been using induction stoves for most of my recent life. As far as I could tell, any kitchen range that did not include the circular coils on top were using induction. I mean, what else could they be?

Ceramic glass, it turns out. Those ranges I’ve been using and incorrectly thinking were induction were simply ceramic glass. The heating coils (or lamps, depending on the model) are located underneath the glass surface, and the heat is transferred straight up. They’re easier to clean than the old coil stove eyes, and marginally safer, but they are very much not induction.

I’m staying at an AirBNB with an induction hob, and immediately after powering it on the user experience was unfamiliar to me. I swithced it on, but aside from a fan, it just starred at me with a blinking seven-segment display. I pressed the button to crank up the power, but it stubbornly refused to do anything.

I put my pan on the stove and tried again: E01, it grouchily answered. An error!

Rather than using my own pan, I reached into the cabinet and grabbed a heavier stainless steel frying pan, and sat it on the eye. Immediately, it danced to life. I turned the power up, and it responded quickly.

Instantaneously, the pan grew hot to the touch. The oil was warm. The food started cooking. It was so pleasant, and efficient, and it cooked evenly in a way that previously I had only experienced with propane.

Later, I heated up a can of soup with it. Tonight, I’m trying spaghetti.

I’ve only used it a few times now, but each time I am astounded at how quickly it heats up, how evenly it cooks, and how great the user experience is (once you use a compatible pan). I have a feeling this is going to be become one of those things I swear by!