I don't know if it's a European thing, but the French are big on pressure cookers, or "cocottes-minute." I was surprised and even alarmed to find this utensile among my husband's rather limited cooking equipment when I first moved to France. To me, pressure cookers had always represented a mysterious, antiquated and vaguely dangerous way of cooking.
My grandmother (in the USA) has one, but I think it has mainly been used for canning or sterilizing -- I'm not really sure. I do know that actual meals never seem to come out of it. But in France, cooks make plenty of things with them, especially stews and soups.
I have gone through a few cocottes-minute (I'm not sure of the correct plural form, so corrections are welcome) in my years here. The one I had used for about ten years came to a sad end, as pressure cookers can, when I didn't put enough liquid in it. But ten years is enough time for technology to change, and I took it as an opportunity to finally buy the famous SEB Clipso model, which is easier to close than the traditional cookers.
As you can see if you click on the link, these are not cheap pots, but they do allow one to reduce cooking time on many recipes by about two-thirds. I have lived without one for about a year now, but am glad to get back to 10-minute soups and one-hour stews!