Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

As I was leafing through the Christmas ads today, I came across the store GiFi’s toy section. You might remember my initial shock that kids in France have board games. Well, today I was also shocked to see they have play kitchens, too. 

A toy washing machine

 I find this amusing because, from what I can gather about the size of most kitchens in France, these “toy” sets and their accompanying “appliances,” seem to be Life Sized.

As you can see on the left, the washing machine appears to fit about three pairs of pants. The toy oven is just barely large enough for a chicken. You get the point.

And if my American readers wonder why I am including the washing machine as part of a kitchen set, it’s quite common here in France, and in some other parts of Europe, to put the washing machine right next to the stove or sink. I feel like that is really weird, because I hate the thought of my clothing next “dirty” things, but I guess it’s just a cultural difference.

However, washing laundry with European washing machines is frustrating. Oh, sure, kids, it might look fun. But trust me, there’s nothing fun at all about cramming just four shirts and two pairs of socks into a tiny machine and watch it loudly spin and sound like it is ready to explode for the next three hours.

A make-believe Deep Fryer

A make-believe Deep Fryer

Other than the toy irons, vacuums, and dishwasher, the toys I found most interesting were the ones I never see in the United States. Specifically, a toy coffee pot (huh?) and … a toy deep fryer. Not kidding. They actually have a plastic toy “friteuse.” (Apologies for the dark photos, our camera’s shutter battery is low and we can’t figure out where to buy a new one). 

That’s weird, right? I am actually afraid of deep-frying anything, so I give props to kids brave enough to play with one of these.  Then again, the fried potatoes and chicken wing that come with it do look pretty tasty. I just wish I had some kid I could give a Christmas present to.

I would tell their parents I got a toy kitchen item from France, and, being typical Americans, they would think, “Oh, how fabulous, our child will be able to play with something so sophisticated and gourmet! Perhaps it’s a crepe-maker, or a Le creuset Dutch Oven for cooking free-range coq au vin, or maybe she bought play molds for making madeleines!”

And then I would bust out a plastic deep-fryer.

This made me wonder, though, do make-believe kitchen toys always change by culture? If they have deep fryers in France (Which I’m not even certain are really that popular in the French home),  what do they have in other countries?

If we’re on the ‘dangerous appliances’  kick, for example,  do they have toy pressure-cookers in India? Toy spritz-cookie presses in Germany? Or toy asado sets in Argentina?  

It reminds me of the time I was playing with my Pakistani friend’s young daughter, and I saw her rolling play dough with a rolling pin. “Are you making a pie?” I asked her. 

“No, I’m making chapati,” she said. 

Oh. Why didn’t I think of that?

Why is this little gori cooking with Indian dishes?

So I did some Internet research. It turns out that, yes, you can buy toy kitchen sets from other cultures. I just searched for Indian kitchens, and came up with quite a few. And I’m sure if Indian children have these, children from all sorts of other countries have their own versions, too.

I’m going to ignore the fact that there’s a blond girl on this box. Looking at the items inside it, it’s quite obviously for an Indian audience. It looks like there are those metal cups, a lunch dabba, a vegetable grater, and possibly even some sort of idli maker.

The other boxes I saw, including one called “Pure Veg Cooking Set,” have different items. “Let’s Make Dinner Together,” even has all the dangerous toys for kids who want to cook on the edge:  fake gas burners attached to a fake-gas tank and a toy pressure cooker.

Well, I know what my future child is getting for Christmas someday. “Pratima, be quiet and go play with your pressure cooker!”


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