In all my years, I had never know what this was. A strainer? A steamer? What's a steamer? Why does it have petals that open or close? Why are there folding legs?
I would see this thing in other kitchens and wonder what it could possibly be used for. In a pinch, I'm sure I've used it as a strainer but I couldn't fathom what one would steam in it and, more importantly, why.
The answer, recently, came to me when I discovered that store which is another phenomenon I never understood. (It has been recently criticized as being racist in its branding, ergo "that store"). People who loved it, absolutely loved it. Yet when I went in, I didn't recognize any of its products. Where were all my favorites?
When the pandemic hit, lines would form outside their stores when one could easily enter any big brand store without fuss (other than a mask, hand sanitizer, wipes, distancing, etc.). So what was the big deal?
Until one day, I found myself in that store and I bought a bag of frozen potstickers which is nothing, in and of itself, but that's what brings these two discoveries together: on the directions for the potstickers. "Place frozen potstickers seam side up in a steamer basket over boiling water...."
Eureka! Everything clicked into place and I had amazing potstickers as well as a use for the spaceship-looking object that lurked at the back of my kitchen cabinet. (It came with the place when I bought it as did a waffle iron which is a whole different delight.)
Here's the real Ah ha! moment: I learned I could steam eggs in it. Okay, why is that an Ah ha! moment? Because, the eggs turn out great and they're easy to peel. Boom! No expensive kitchen appliances needed! Just a little boiling water and this folding spaceship thing.
I imagine I could do other things besides potstickers and eggs but I'm pretty happy with the potstickers and eggs.
I guess I could steam vegetables in there but, then again, who would do that?