Friday, January 5, 2018

An American's Guide to Washing Dishes in a Finnish Home

When you're in a Finnish home, don't shove every dirty dish into the dishwasher and switch it on. Apparently, many Finnish homes have old dishes, and many old dishes have glazes that will be removed by heat and chemical reaction with dishwasher soap. If there is one phrase you never want to hear, that phrase would be "Oh no! This was my great-grandmother's plate, and now it's ruined!"  You will lose friendships over this.

Full disclosure, I did not ruin anyone's great-grandmother's plate. I did, however, remove the polish from someone's decades-old ice-cream scoop. But there have been great-grandmother's plates rescued from my dishwasher.

I have tried to ban in my household the use of dishes that cannot be washed in the dishwasher.  They are to be used only on special occasions, like when we have completely run out of other clean dishes.

What we have here, I believe, is an example of culture clash, and in broad strokes, I'm tempted to claim that Americans appreciate old things only to the extent that they are convenient. Old, inconvenient things will be banished to the attic or a museum.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, or a criticism, just an observations.  Finns seem to, generally speaking, not only appreciate old things, but use them in every-day life.

At least, in my circles.

Update: 10.10.2018

After some consultation, I have discovered that there are many Americans who keep and use old things, and many Finns who do not. I have not really yet discerned a specific difference between who does what and why. While many American Southerners do keep and use old things, others do not. While many urban people of either Finnish or American nationality do not, many do.

Anyway, be careful when washing unknown dishes! You could lose a friend!