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The Real Dish

I was going to leave this as a comment in this post at Thought Mesh, about a home improvement show featuring "kitchens of the future," but I decided that it was long enough for a real post on my very own site. Here we go:

I've often been amused by these "kitchen of the future" gadgets that were obviously invented by men to conform with their idea of what constitutes both a horrible, back-breaking chore, and an item that is not really necessary to comfortable living. For instance, when I had cable I used to watch HGTV*, and one of their shows featured a machine that created new, clean dishes out of plastic. So whenever you had a dinner party, all you had to do was press a button, and you'd get the number of dishes and bowls and so on that you'd need, all pressed out of these disks of plastic. And when you were done you'd just throw the whole mess of dirty dishes into the machine, and they'd be melted down (and the dirty food bits somehow eliminated by this process) into new plastic disks, to be reused for new dishes when the time came.

Needless to say the device was a prototype and therefore cumbersome, but that wasn't the thing that amused me: it was the idea that a woman would be happy with a machine that made new dishes out of an ugly, grayish-white colored plastic, instead of having a set of "good" china, which she most likely got at her wedding after choosing the pattern from a special catalogue, and then somewhat more common but pleasing -- to her -- "every day" dishes, and then there would be the junk the kids ate off of. And every once in a while, when the number of chips and cracks in the "everyday" dishes got too much to bear, she would go off to Walmart for a new set of Corelle (which would necessitate an agonizing study of the five or so available patterns before choosing the one that felt "right.")

I know my people. This is how we are. You can't change us. The only human beings who will be thrilled with a dish-creating machine will be single men (married men will have no choice in the matter). George Orwell had a similar blind spot towards dishes and the washing and tending thereof, when in one of his essays he mused on what a waste of time it was for everyone to have to wash their own set of dishes, and wouldn't it be better for there to be some sort of service that would come around to neighborhoods and take away the dirty dishes and provide a clean set every day. A woman consenting to eating off some "stranger's" dishes in her own house? Unthinkable. True, he was having to cope with washing his own dishes during the Blitz, and dealing with some substance called "soap flakes," but the dish thing does appear to be one of the areas where men and women really don't think alike. (However, we do seem to share a similar dislike of washing up.)

*I am a girl, after all.

Comments (9)

CGHill [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I have two sets of dishes. Still boxed up is the second-best set of china from when I was a child. (My brother has the first-best set.) The everyday plates were the sub-Melmac atrocities we used as spares when I was married; surprisingly, they have held up for thirty years.

I have learned that the only way to attack the problem of actually washing the darn things is to get to it immediately after the meal and get it out of the way. (Your mileage may vary, and anyway I don't have a dishwasher.)

I used to be a horrible slob, but I have retrained myself and now I try to get the dishes clean every night. I have enough trouble coping with the smelly cat food my animals like, I don't need reeky dishes on top of that.

But your real objection to recycled dishes seems to be the low quality. Suppose they came out of the machine looking and feeling just like your good china?

If different patterns could by chosen, or could be programmed in, that might do it. On the other hand, people could come to see having to start up a machine every time they wanted clean dishes to be an onerous task. Don't underestimate the power of human laziness. People used to complain about "dishpan hands," then the dishwashing machine became ubiquitous. Now they complain about having to load and unload the dishwasher. And how many people will get up and change their tv channel by hand if the remote is missing or won't work? Every tv has a power on/off and a channel and volume control right there on the set, but instead people will waste minutes of a show looking for the remote.

Sometimes I wonder how we manage to feed ourselves...

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

II had this conversation with My Chief about this last week -- we are no longer a society where "survival of the fittest" applies...

I retrained to do the dishes every night, too. Otherwise they talk to me all night long...& when I was getting up hung over almost every day, it was even more difficult! Of course, I don't have many these days.

And Andrea, have you seen the new patterns for Corelle??? Dozens of 'em, & they even have square plates! I gave my plain white ones, that I bought when I was pregant, to Lovely Daughter, & I have the last set my mum bought - pansies, my favorite flower. Grandmother's china is in the shed.

The Corelle aisle at Walmart is a place of evil temptation.

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

There's an outlet store in St. Augustine (I needed magnets to hold my knives, cuz I only have 2 drawers AND I needed a new set of flatware, which I ended up finding at Oneida online) that has what seemed like thousands of choices...I could spend My Chief's entire retirement check to stock even my tiny kitchen!

I'll probably never go there again. That was the last time I went shopping, 3 weeks before Christmas.

Oh, wait - Lovely Daughter is getting married 26 May, so I guess I'll have to shop a couple more times...now SHE would like to have a new set of dishes every time, IF they upgrade that machine to putting out a new design whenever she wants.


Oh Randu, don't remind me. She Who Is Perfect In All Ways redid the kitchen early this spring and among things, replaced her electric plate stove top with an induction model. This meant getting all new pots and pans because only ferrous based construction works on induction (no aluminum, no copper) and wow, those things cost some serious cash.

The one redeeming feature that she still remembers what it was like before the upgrade, so cooking seems much nicer now. But in time, I suspect that Ms. Harris' second comment will apply.

P.S. On the other hand, you can get induction stove tops that look like something out of Star Trek, which I can say has a definite influence on getting the non-cooking male to agree with the upgrade.

J.M. Heinrichs [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I prefer the heavy-duty paper plates. Buy the package of 50, they'll last four ot five meals before disposal is suggested. No washing up required.


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Don't worry, he's just chopping broccoli.


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