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Dishes--No rinsing in water after washing?


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#1 Hiroyuki

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 03:51 PM

I have a feeling that there are a lot of myths and simple misunderstandings going on around the world about the lifestyle of other peoples.

Yesterday, I read an interesting new topic in the Japan Forum about the "apple infused with honey". I made a reply that apples infused with honey are totally false.

And, now, it's my turn.

From what I read in a book about England, Englishmen do not rinse dishes in water after washing with detergent. Is it true or false?

Thanks.

#2 winesonoma

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 04:46 PM

If you don't rinse you will shit like you never shat before. It's common camping malady when trying to save water.
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#3 tomweir

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 11:36 PM

You're presuming Englishmen wash up...

#4 Hallie

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 02:20 AM

I have been waiting for some time for someone to start this thread - not having the guts to do it myself, of course.

Dishwashing in the UK has been my one and only bugbear since moving here over 11 years ago. In my opinion (and this is only an opinion) there are only two ways of washing dishes by hand; the right way and the potentially harmful way.

The right way is naturally the way I learned when I was young; you turn on the tap, grab a soapy sponge or other implement such as a bottle filled with sudsy liquid with a brush on the top, rinse dish under FLOWING water, scrub away debris, then rinse dish under FLOWING water again. This seems to make sense as all of the potentially harmful things (eg; raw chicken juices, festering dairy products, and other bits of untasty crap) are jettisoned away in a stream of water and down the drain.

During my time in the UK I have seen the above exercise in dish washing performed but, much to my horror, I have also seen the following:

Fill unclean sink with water and put plug in. Watch as grease and other unnamed bits from the sink floats to the surface of the basin. Fill with washing up liquid until sudsy. Dip dish in sudsy sink water and rub with a sponge (or sometimes a greasy cloth! Yes, I have seen this and it almost makes me retch to remember it). Put dish on side with suds (and other crusts) still clinging to it.

The above, mind you, is a very bad case of 'unwashed dish phenomenon'. You can usually recognise it because the next time a glass is handed to you its greasy and plates always retain a bit of what was eaten last from them.

Being an historian, I have come to the conclusion that this indeed is a very old method of washing dishes that predates running water. Water was collected from the pump or standpipe in a bucket and brought into the scullery where dishes were done on site. It also predates common understanding of the workings of bacteria or food handling. As with many ancient and august institutions in the UK, this method of washing up dishes remains, regardless of advancements in the field (such as the additon of hot and cold running water which flows directly into the sink and the widely put about knowledge of what causes stomach upsets). My dear husband still lapses from time to time. Just yesterday I picked up a 'clean' mug where my lipstick still decorated the rim and a gentle stain of coffee was still apparent on the inside.

I realise that I may have opened an a pandora's box here - but since the main objective behind this thread was to dispell cultural food rumours; not all dishes are washed this way in the UK. Some people are fortunate enough to have dishwashers.

Edited by Hallie, 23 April 2004 - 02:37 AM.


#5 Matthew Grant

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 02:20 AM

Is this a joke thread?
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#6 therese

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 02:31 AM

Joke or not, I've heard this previously, and not just from U.S. friends (who'd lived in English households while at University) but from French friends also visiting English households.

This was twenty years ago, though, so the practice may have disappeared (or never happened in the first place).
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#7 Carlovski

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 02:55 AM

This is all true I'm afraid.
It may have quite a lot to do with the scarcity of mixer taps in the UK, you have boiling hot or cold. Quite tricky to rinse effectively.
The trick to doing a reasonable job is to make sure you wash glassware etc first, and pans last. Personally I do always rinse by the way.
When I used to wash glasses in a bar with no washer, We used to two sink method. One with soapy water to clean, and a 'Plunge pool' to rinse them off.

On a side issue, I am a 'stacker', I'll stack it up until I have a reasonable amount to wash, then do the lot (Including my housemates). I know people who turn there noses up, and say they always wash up straight away. In my experience, these are the worst people for leaving things stuck to pans, greasy plates etc.
It's like many people I know who have very tidy houses/flats but have things rotting in the back of the fridge. Whereas I am very untidy, but always make sure anything food related is clean and everything is fresh.
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#8 Gary Marshall

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 03:18 AM

From what I read in a book about England, Englishmen do not rinse dishes in water after washing with detergent.  Is it true or false?

i think i want to read this book :biggrin:

what other odd things do we do?
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#9 su-lin

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 04:05 AM

Not a joke and it still happens today. As a student living in halls of residence, I have seen people wash dishes using the icky method that Hallie describes. :sad:

#10 Opson

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 04:16 AM

In Spain the English have a reputation for uncleanliness second only to the French. In fact we have a joke,

"Where do you hide something from and English/Frenchman?"

"Under the soap".

As as a 16 year old student of English, I was sent to spend 5 weeks with an English family near Brighton. I was used to showering daily, they had no shower. Instead they bathed weekly, and all used the same bathwater, and expected me to do the same. I just couldn't bring myself to do it and ended up going to the local swimming pool every day.

Oh, and the food was even worse.

#11 Andy Lynes

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 05:56 AM

As as a 16 year old student of English, I was sent to spend 5 weeks with an English family near Brighton.

And how old are you now?

#12 PoppySeedBagel

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 06:02 AM

My word! I thought the rest of the world hated us because we are imperialists: now I know it's the way we wash up...

#13 Fat Guy

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 06:05 AM

Let me step in here for a second as an outsider with no stake in the outcome of the British Dishwashing Question: I am finding this issue fascinating, but I can see it as developing into a culture war rather than a discussion of the arguably food-related issue here. So I would say, if you don't want to force those bad-ass UK moderators to shut this thread down, it is necessary to avoid political discussions and claims of general British uncleanliness, which are offensive, off-topic stereotypes. And I would add, from personal experience, that Andy is quite clean and smells rather nice. And also that Opson once spent 5 weeks living with Andy in Brighton . . . but that's another matter.

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#14 Carlovski

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 06:05 AM

As as a 16 year old student of English, I was sent to spend 5 weeks with an English family near Brighton.

And how old are you now?

Wasn't with you was it Andy?
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#15 Opson

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 06:55 AM

As as a 16 year old student of English, I was sent to spend 5 weeks with an English family near Brighton.

And how old are you now?

Is this supposed to be funny? If so, can someone please explain it to me?

#16 Opson

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 06:57 AM

Oh and while I remember, the same family had carpet in the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet!

Each was, in its own way heavily discoloured.

#17 howardlong

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 07:22 AM

From what I read in a book about England, Englishmen do not rinse dishes in water after washing with detergent. Is it true or false?

Neither. Real Englishmen use dishwashers.

Cheers, Howard

#18 Fat Guy

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 07:41 AM

Yes but do they use specially designed English dishwashers -- like the one recently installed at the Lynes residence in Brighton where Opson used to live pre-dishwasher -- that have the rinse cycle disabled?

I've got to say, having been to England a few times and having actually met a couple of English people here and there, there's no way this bizarre holdover non-rinsing practice could be any sort of uniform national behavior (sorry, behaviour). It sounds as though this is some sort of vestigial behavior from way back that survives in places -- which is something that happens in every country.

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#19 Carlovski

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 07:42 AM

As as a 16 year old student of English, I was sent to spend 5 weeks with an English family near Brighton.

And how old are you now?

Is this supposed to be funny? If so, can someone please explain it to me?

I assume he is just trying to work out when it was.
(I think Andy is a Brightonian by the way)
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#20 Andy Lynes

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 07:43 AM

As as a 16 year old student of English, I was sent to spend 5 weeks with an English family near Brighton.

And how old are you now?

Is this supposed to be funny? If so, can someone please explain it to me?

I was simply trying to establish how long ago the experience you describe took place in order to assess if it still has any relevance.

#21 oldschooltie

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 07:47 AM

Neither. Real Englishmen use dishwashers.

Traditional Englishmen use dishwashers too - they're called Englishwomen

#22 Carlovski

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 07:50 AM

From what I read in a book about England, Englishmen do not rinse dishes in water after washing with detergent.  Is it true or false?

Neither. Real Englishmen use dishwashers.

Cheers, Howard

Not quite right.
Real Englishmen have Wives. Or live with their mum.

There, that should get this thread shut down (And I didn't even start on things I have seen in Spain)
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#23 Fat Guy

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 08:02 AM

To be fair to the Lynes family, my understanding is that since they only eat fish and chips, and they wrap that in newspaper anyway, their food doesn't actually come in contact with their unrinsed dishes.

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#24 oldschooltie

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 08:11 AM

My dear husband still lapses from time to time.  Just yesterday I picked up a 'clean' mug where my lipstick still decorated the rim and a gentle stain of coffee was still apparent on the inside.

I think that this is a bit harsh - my interpretation is that your husband is an incurable romantic and wants to have a reminder of you with him at all times.

We Englishman are so terribly misunderstood.

#25 Anna N

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 08:16 AM

I hope you will all allow me to put things in perspective here. I grew up in England in the 40's and 50's (so now you know my photo is a few years old :biggrin: ). My parents owned a pub built probably in the late 19th perhaps early 20th century. Our living quarters, a single room, were separated from the pub by an open-air passageway. Our bedrooms were built over the pub. There were no inside toilets and no bathroom of any kind. We had 3 outside flush toilets - one for the Men, one for the Ladies and ours! There was no washbasin in any - just a toilet.

Our living quarters, a single room, perhaps 16 feet square (it's a long time ago) served as living, dining, cooking, bathing room for a family of 6. A fair chunk of real estate you might think. But one corner was off-limits - it housed a massive trapdoor and pulley which led down to the cellar. Here were unloaded the huge barrels of beer delivered once or more each week. Another corner housed a copper boiler which was used to heat water and to do the weekly wash.

Bath night was always on a Friday. Early in the afternoon our housekeeper (no, we were not wealthy, our mother died when we were tots and a series of women were hired to be barmaids cum housekeepers) would fill the boiler using a huge pan from the tap, she would lay a fire beneath the copper boiler and tend to it until bath time. Then she, sometimes with help, sometimes alone, would haul in a huge galvanized tub from the shed outside and set it up in the living room. She would then fill the tub, again with a massive pan, from the boiler. My big brother and sister bathed first and fought over who went in the clean water. All the time the fire had to be tended under the boiler. When all four kids had been in the tub, she had to empty it, the same laborious way, wipe it out and return it to the shed. For the duration of bathtime those not in the tub were expected to make themselves scarce - remember we had only a single room.

When we youngsters were bathed and put in our night clothes we had to walk outside, then through a pub crowded with customers, up a narrow staircase to our bed.

Were we dirty! No, never! Each night except bath night, we were scrubbed until our skin was red and raw since our housekeepers truly believed that cleanliness was next to godliness. I never saw my father leave the house without a strip wash in icy cold water, a shave, and a shine on his shoes. Even in her eighties, my Gran, with similar facilities, strip-washed in front of the fire almost daily.

Then I moved to Canada. My first home was at Mile 295 on the Alaska Hiway. We had no electricy, no gas, no running water, no telephone and, you guessed it, no bathroom. We had an outhouse. Water had to be trucked in and we stored it in 45 gallon drums near the wood stove as it would have frozen solid in winter. Bathing there made England seem positively luxurious. No bathtub - you stood in a basin of water and strip-washed as best you could. Water was too precious to waste so it was then used to wash the floors and do whatever other cleaning needed doing.

In such circumstances I wonder how many of us would be willing to take a daily bath.

Our standards of cleanliness and our facilities in North America and Britain and most of the Western nations have changed considerably in the decades since. Most of us have access to hot and cold running water, dedicated rooms for bathing and showering, indoor toilets, etc. But we should remember where most of us came from when we judge standards of cleanliness.

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#26 Blondie

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 08:23 AM

I have seen the same non-rinsing behavior in Ireland that Hallie describes. I remember having houseguests insist on doing the dishes, then running into the kitchen later to give everything a proper rinse. No one else seemed bothered by it, and in fact I never felt ill after eating in a home where non-rinsing was the norm.
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#27 Andy Lynes

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 09:16 AM

To be fair to the Lynes family, my understanding is that since they only eat fish and chips, and they wrap that in newspaper anyway, their food doesn't actually come in contact with their unrinsed dishes.

This is not true, sometimes we have a donar kebab (or "gyro" for our American chums) which we eat off of paper plates and then feed the left-overs to the dog.

#28 daw

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 09:28 AM

I think non-rinsing is more common than this topic might suggest.

We have a dishwasher, but the stuff that does not go in that does not get rinsed and I can't say it has ever made us ill to my knowledge. I certainly know many people who don't rinse - well educated, healthy types who appreciate good food!

The one exception is stemware which I rinse with real zeal because I know I don't want soap film in my next glass of wine.

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#29 phaelon56

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 09:29 AM

I assure you that both my daughter's college friend, who stayed with us for a summer last year, and also a close friend of mine, in whose home I lived recently for a few months while househunting, are neither English nor Irish. They were simply among that large group of people who populate the planet in various places and were never instructed in the proper method for washing dishes. I simply made it a habit to rewash anything that they had washed before I used it.

#30 magnolia

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 09:48 AM

So I would say, if you don't want to force those bad-ass UK moderators to shut this thread down, it is necessary to avoid political discussions and claims of general British uncleanliness, which are offensive, off-topic stereotypes...


I guess nobody took Fat Guy's warning seriously...not even Fat Guy himself. :smile:
I'm not a moderator but I can see where this is going and as this thread kicked off with Hiroyuki's innocent question, which elicited some interesting answers but then degenerated into a sillly but potentially offensive discussion...I will try to put the matter to rest before anyone gets hurt (my beau says his mother threw dishes at him if they weren't clean enough).

Un-salubrious dishwashing behaviour is not the sole purview of Englishmen, believe me. Manual dishwashing (indeed machine washing too, what about those who wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher?) is highly individual, and transcends borders. I've seen appalling technique used in many countries and ...in my own house. (Don't worry, not when you guys are over :smile: ) An Australian friend uses the dirty-tub-of-water method too, he says his mother has always done this to "save water" (and at the risk of starting another tangential discussion, I'm sure our semi-reactionary friends at The Ecologist magazine would say it's better to ingest old pieces of food, salmonella spores etc. than to waste water and/or use too many detergents - go put a lock on *that* Pandora's box)

I think we are all guilty of leaving that little bit of crud on the plates, and the sink. Enough said.

Edited by magnolia, 23 April 2004 - 09:50 AM.