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Swear in the name of Julia Child and all things holy that you'll never take your refrigerator for granted again.
If you knew how the refrigerator had changed our lives, you'd fall to your knees and kiss its blessed little coils.
In a century crammed with spectacular inventions, none has been as important to women as mechanical refrigeration, which rescued us from plucking chicken feathers, delivered unto us ice cream and -- praise be to General Electric -- finally got us out of the house.
``It certainly did revolutionize food preparation,'' says Jean Anderson, a culinary historian and author of a dozen cookbooks, including ``American Century Cookbook'' (Clarkson Potter, $25).
This century has been one of startling advances on all food fronts. Vitamins were discovered, mechanical stoves and microwaves were invented, the first food safety laws were passed, and foods as diverse as cake mixes, pizza, Caesar salad and chocolate chip cookies debuted in America. But without refrigerators, we'd still be stuck in the kitchen.
Consider that in the 1800s, when iceboxes and root cellars were still the norm, women spent an average of eight hours each day preparing food. Today the average time spent preparing a meal is 20 minutes.
As a result, for the first time in American history, a woman is able to work outside the home and become an integral part of the economy. …