Nieuws - 19 april 2012

The Dutch dishwasher revolution


The conversation used to get going over the washing up. Now there is a dishwasher and the guest is not even allowed to help clear up

Sixteen years ago, when I did my Master's in Wageningen, there were no dishwashers, at least not in Dutch society. I used to be invited by Dutch families for dinner and the like. It was part of Dutch culture in those days that after a meal you had to help wash up (by hand), otherwise it was very impolite!
Doing the dishes by hand used to take between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the number of people who had enjoyed the meal. It was while doing the dishes that much of the conversation went on. Personally, I was wondering why Dutch people liked their guest to participate in this dish-washing ceremony. Was it because it's tedious? Was it because it's fun? I never got a clear response to my questions. In Tanzania, we don't let guests do the dishes. Nevertheless, I used to enjoy doing the dishes with Dutch families after a meal.
More than ten years later, in 2009, I returned to the Netherlands, and this time my network expanded. Now almost every week I get an invitation for dinner. Thanks to Dutch people for inviting me to come and enjoy their meals! I have noticed some changes in Dutch culture. In almost every house I have visited there is an automatic dishwasher. No more washing up by hand, and the guest is not even allowed to assist in clearing up or drying the utensils. So the time for conversation is also minimized! I am asking Dutch people if they can make provision for at least helping to dry the utensils, so at least we continue talking!
Annadomana Nyanga (from Tanzania), PhD Researcher at the Land Degradation and Development chair group