The bizarre cult of granite countertops

What is it with granite countertops? I thought I had left them behind in Canada, slowly leaking radon gas into all those updated kitchens, to be blamed in future for a cancer epidemic.
And often quite ugly.
But in La Prensa this week there was an ad for Las Colinas Residencial, a little housing development outside San Pedro Sula. And the selling features included "cocino con mueble de granito."
These are tiny houses, crammed onto small lots. The two-bedroom houses are 675 square feet; the big four-bedroom, two-storey models are 1,130 square feet.  Two colours of paint, PVC windows, 10 per cent down and payments as low as $257 a month, even at 10 per cent interest rates. (Interest rates are remarkably high here, a big drag on the economy. The problem, a business guy said, is that people just don't feel an obligation to repay loans. I got the impression he didn't.)
But the houses still had granite countertops.
A cultural anthropologist could probably do a doctorate on the allure of granite countertops. They can be nice, I'm sure, cool and smooth. But how did they become totemic, a necessary feature in every remodelled kitchen or condo development in Canada and Honduras?
I've never actually had a granite countertop. In the first house I co-owned, we replaced the bad formica with better fake wood-strip formica, one of the few home handyman projects I've done that has worked out. We painted the cabinets white and added red plastic knobs from Ikea and stuck a portable dishwasher into a space under the counter. Presto, a kitchen reno.
In our place here, which rents for about $325, the counters are tile, and not all that well done. But they serve.
But many Hondurans, like Canadians, apparently want granite. Maybe they plan on some serious baking, and need a cool surface to roll out their brioche dough.

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