Gray Matter


Kitchens and Dining Rooms in the United States and the Philippines

RT Cunningham | September 3, 2020 (UTC) | Culture, House and Home

kitchens and dining roomsThere are necessities and nice-to-have items for kitchens and dining rooms in both the United States and the Philippines. I should know because I’ve lived in both countries. Of course, how much you have of anything depends on your financial status. Culture dictates what you consider necessary.

Items That Should Already Be in Place

Again, it depends on culture. Americans expect certain items to be in place when they move into a home, like a refrigerator and a stove. Some expect a dishwasher as well, but it isn’t necessary. Some people expect garbage disposal units in sinks, but those aren’t really necessary either. Many homes in the Philippines will have none of these things when Filipinos move into them.

Dining rooms tend to be empty when people move into them, regardless of which country we’re talking about. Many Filipino homes won’t have dining rooms at all, and they won’t even have full kitchens. The kitchen in my house in Olongapo has a refrigerator and a stove, but no dishwasher and no garbage disposal. The refrigerator is actually next to the breakfast bar, invisible in the photo I’m displaying.

Kitchen Appliances

I have to replace the refrigerator when I return. It’ll have more than 15 years on it by then. The motor already makes a lot of noise. I need a new microwave oven, something I can’t ship there inside a balikbayan box. Although I have regular can openers, I want an electric can opener, preferably one that includes a knife sharpener. It also needs to handle 220 volts. It’s an item I’ll probably have to order from Lazada Philippines.

Although rice can be cooked in a regular pot, I want a Japanese rice cooker. Rice cookers made in China do not last very long. Again, I can’t ship one in a balikbayan box and I’ll probably have to order one from Lazada.

Whether they know it or not, everyone needs a toaster or toaster oven. If they can afford it, they need a conventional oven as well. Some food items cannot be properly cooked any other way. There are other kitchen appliances I want whether I need them or not. One is a new coffee maker, even though I drink instant way more often. A popcorn popper, a hot air cooker, a blender and a mixer would all be nice to have.

Eating Utensils

I’m not focusing on cooking. There are plenty of things to cook with, regardless of what they’re called in each country. Eating utensils include knifes, forks and spoons. It doesn’t matter if they’re called silverware, flatware or tableware. I already have a knife block with steak and other knives in it, waiting for me. It’s been waiting more than a year, so I don’t remember all the knives.

I’m pretty sure I have a bunch of tableware in one of the boxes we’ve shipped. My wife, Josie, seems to think we need four sets of everything even though we’re the only two living in the house.

Plastic Containers

We don’t have problems with ants in the kitchen and dining areas in the United States. Not anywhere I’ve been, including tropical Hawaii. In the Philippines, it’s a completely different story. There, the ants get into food on the table and burrow through food packaging. I’ve thrown out packages of ramen and cold cereal and other things they burrowed into at one time or another.

If I want to store cold cereal, sugar or anything I don’t want to keep in the refrigerator, I have to use lockable plastic containers. Ceramic containers with lids aren’t good enough. The ants can lift those lids. The plastic containers with locking lids are the only things I’ve found that keeps them out.

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