What household items from non-US countries should I know about?
January 14, 2019 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I kick off my shoes and put on a pair of Asian-style house slippers the moment I get home; they keep my toes warm and the soles of my feet protected. I learned the art of carrying the shopping home with a "granny cart" from a brief stay in Paris, where no one goes to the store without one. What other near-ubiquitous household items from other countries should more Americans know about?
posted by capricorn to Home & Garden (47 answers total) 114 users marked this as a favorite
 
Drying rack for clothes!
posted by catspajammies at 1:26 PM on January 14, 2019 [14 favorites]


The bidet!
posted by Melismata at 1:27 PM on January 14, 2019 [29 favorites]


Kettles?
posted by biffa at 1:28 PM on January 14, 2019 [22 favorites]


Stick blenders.
posted by catspajammies at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Kettles?

Specifically electric 240 volt kettles in the UK work a lot faster (Twice as fast? I don't actually know) than the wimpy 120v things we use in the US. Though rewiring your home's electrical service is perhaps a more difficult change than picking up some slippers.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:30 PM on January 14, 2019 [11 favorites]


The combination of bottom sheet and duvet with no intervening bedding.
posted by HotToddy at 1:33 PM on January 14, 2019 [43 favorites]


My mom grew up in a tropical country, and these mesh umbrella style food protectors were de rigeur in our decidedly non-tropical household in summertime during my childhood. Especially awesome for picnics and barbecues!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:34 PM on January 14, 2019 [16 favorites]


The Idli Grinder
posted by Morpeth at 1:34 PM on January 14, 2019


Pressure cookers are ubiquitous in India, but the Instant Pot is making them pretty ubiquitous in the US too.
posted by peacheater at 1:36 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Magnetic soap holder. Soap dries thoroughly between uses. (I discovered these in Germany.)
posted by FencingGal at 1:41 PM on January 14, 2019 [25 favorites]


Pots and pans in handles are used in India, but what's also common are stackable stainless steel dishes used along with tongs like these. You just attach them to the pot vertically and then pots can be picked up and put back down on the stove. It makes it easier to stack cooking pots in small kitchens, like Indian kitchens often are.
posted by peacheater at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Magnetic soap holder. Soap dries thoroughly between uses. (I discovered these in Germany.)

Those are common in India too! I'd forgotten about them.
posted by peacheater at 1:47 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


A Dutch bottle scraper!
posted by miltthetank at 1:50 PM on January 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Radiant heat is a lot more common in Europe than most of the States, and in the colder climes you're likely to find bathroom radiators with extra-wide gaps between the pipes so you can hang your towels from them. Drop your towel on it before your shower and it's nice and toasty when you get out.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:56 PM on January 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Electric kettles.

If you don't like flies in the house but want fresh air and your dog keeps messing up your flyscreen door. You want these things.

Also Electric Jaffle irons for toasted sandwiches no more cheese leaking out of your toastie anymore.
posted by wwax at 2:00 PM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


Not exactly a gadget, but why don't we have Finnish over the sink dish drying cabinets ?
posted by Mchelly at 2:03 PM on January 14, 2019 [28 favorites]


They're not unknown in the US, but I didn't start using a mortar and pestle until I started cooking Thai food. Now I use it for 75% of cooking. It's especially nice to be able to keep whole spices and grind them a la minute without too much cleanup.
posted by Maecenas at 2:04 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


"If you don't like flies in the house but want fresh air and your dog keeps messing up your flyscreen door."

Part 2:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004J8B3P0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00__o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

They look much better than the picture. The bamboo is hung on steel wire, not string, so the strands are less prone to breaking. Mine last about two years being hung up from mid-May to mid-October on a SW facing door. I mainly replace them because of fading the the bamboo wearing out.
posted by ITravelMontana at 2:31 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


The combination of bottom sheet and duvet with no intervening bedding.

And just when the MeFi Civil War had died down.....
posted by sideshow at 2:37 PM on January 14, 2019 [14 favorites]


Both from Asia:
*Portable mugs/bottles with built-in sieves so it's easy to add hot water to loose leaf tea.
*Small "stuffed" animals that have a detachable electric cord. Plug in your cute little panda, allow it to heat up, presto! You now have a cuddly, warmth-radiating, cozy friend!

(On a side note, living in a rural area of China completely changed my worldview on body temperature. I'd spent my whole life believing that heat was something that just came to me - via heated buildings, warm cars, etc. Living in a culture that did not subscribe to that belief, but rather took steps to create warmth, really made me think about my own privilege when it comes to temperature. Now, when I'm feeling cold, I ask myself: have you drank something hot? Have you soaked your feet in warm water? Are you wearing long underwear? Have you plugged in your panda?)
posted by WaspEnterprises at 3:37 PM on January 14, 2019 [45 favorites]


I'll add to WaspEnterprises with a hot water bottle with a cozy cover to warm your bed and provide all night snuggles.
posted by waving at 3:51 PM on January 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


Mesa camilla/Kotatsu.
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:59 PM on January 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


nthing the Hot Water Bottle. Sitting with one right now in fact.

in Japan there are lint rollers the size of paint rollers that are a total game changer. Luckily Muji has brought them to America and I cannot speak highly enough about the easy tearability of the paper and the absolutely perfect level of stickiness

Also very common in japan to carry all your stuff around in a bunch of small pouches within a larger bag. Life changing!
posted by wowenthusiast at 4:05 PM on January 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


We bought and installed a Genie Bidet. It's wonderful!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2019


Germany and elsewhere: little personal cutting boards to eat breakfast on (because breakfast = cutting up stuffamd putting it on bread).
posted by the_blizz at 4:44 PM on January 14, 2019 [14 favorites]


You already know about them, but do you have any chop sticks in your kitchen? Have they entered your home life or are they just a novelty when dining out Asian... I can't imagine cooking without them, so often do you need to reach into a hot pot or pan, to grab something; or for stirring. Also, for eating salad, eggs and just so many other things.
posted by Rash at 4:45 PM on January 14, 2019 [11 favorites]


egg slicer for the best egg sandwiches (sliced egg, butter, salt, white pepper on white squishy bread)
posted by Ftsqg at 4:48 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Re the German personal cutting boards, to find using English, search “breakfast boards set.”

And yes, they’re awesome.
posted by FencingGal at 5:03 PM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Stovetop toasters, which take up a fraction of the space that electric toasters do.
posted by sculpin at 5:12 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


OMG yes nthing chopsticks. I grew up with a (full) slot for chopsticks in the cutlery tray, and we were always using them for something in the kitchen. Plus they are really good for eating finger foods without getting your fingers dirty. (Seriously I have done this most of my life when chopsticks were available. I keep a pair in my office along with my spoon, fork and knife.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:23 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Consider a steamer. In our (Malaysian-Chinese) household we use it more often than the microwave for reheating food. Our wok also gets more use than pots/frying pans.
posted by pimli at 5:49 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


If you cook a lot of rice or other sticky grains that stick to serving spoons, a Japanese rice paddle is pretty great.
posted by bananana at 6:30 PM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


Sock / underwear clip hanger to go with the drying rack.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Depending on how you organize your lunch, either a dabba or a bento is a practical and stylish way to carry it.
posted by jackbishop at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2019


I really like deep Japanese soaking tubs (and the practice of showering before getting in). You might like browsing through the archives of Kiosk, a weird and wonderful store that used to exist in Manhattan. They collected everyday objects from other countries. For example, a paintbrush from Greece or a birdhouse from Colombia. Not essential products, but great.
posted by pinochiette at 8:35 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Clothes lines. Which I'd say the Australians have perfected.

The Dutch cheese slicer.
posted by holgate at 9:02 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Long cooking chopsticks.

A good digital rice cooker.

(to be fair, lots of Asian-American households have both of those things)

And seconding kotatsu and electric hot water kettles.

Mesh bags for laundry. I know we have them, but we don't have the variety that you see elsewhere. Check a Daiso if there's one near you.
posted by wintersweet at 11:34 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ye good olde Dutch wooden dishwashing brush.
Lola brush made by Sorbo, sold at hollandforyou.com
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:25 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I got into the habit of using a furoshiki or bandanna rather than a larger padded lunchbox to bring my lunch to work, and it's way more space efficient, not to mention ADORABLE. Also, transparent umbrellas (so you can hold them low but still see out of them, I'm assuming?) seemed to be really popular in Japan, as was carrying around an absorbent handkerchief or decorative washcloth for drying your hands after using a public restroom if there were no towels or dryers.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:13 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if we have a name for it, at least I can't remember it, but we had a metal pot where my great grandmother would accumulate all animal fats (beef, chicken, pork but not fish or lamb) from cooking. Stored in the fridge, once the small pot reached capacity the mixed animal fats would be rendered and sterilised on the stove top and then filtered into a sterilised glass jar and stored in the fridge. The fat would be later used for cooking & baking.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:26 AM on January 15, 2019


In England, we have Double pot holder / Double Oven Gloves. Useful for people who don't like the oven mitt.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:50 AM on January 15, 2019


Tilt and turn windows. Though I hear they're coming to the US these days.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:20 PM on January 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Seconding the Dutch cheese slicer, and nth-ing the electric kettle!
posted by esoterrica at 8:08 PM on January 15, 2019


Peshtemel / hammam towels, likewise Turkish or Korean super-scrubby washcloths.
Masala dabba for spice storage.
posted by athirstforsalt at 9:05 PM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Oh man, you guys really delivered! Thank you for all your responses, and keep 'em coming. I best answered some favorites so far.

The combination of bottom sheet and duvet with no intervening bedding.
Also, apparently I'm less American than I thought? I haven't used a top sheet since I was a wee child.

And the Dutch cheese slicer also reminds me that more Americans need to try brunost. Brunost rules.
posted by capricorn at 6:18 AM on January 16, 2019


Tea Thermos.

I use one every day at work; I got mine from Adagio Teas. I love it so. Very durable!

Personally, I prefer metal over glass; I've broken the glass ones too often for my tastes.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:29 PM on January 16, 2019


i don't know what they're called, but i really appreciate the deepness of these korean strainers in the drains of their kitchen sinks. they're way more efficient than the ones we have in the states.
posted by finally at 11:08 AM on January 18, 2019


« Older when do I charge sales tax?   |   Affordable weddings in New England or New York/New... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.