A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 23, 2013
“Heaven is where the cooks are French, the policemen are English, the mechanics are German…”

The nationalities of Europe each have specialties. “Heaven” might be French cooking and “hell” might be British cooking. “Heaven is where the cooks are French, the police are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and everything is organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the cooks are English, the police are German, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and everything is organized by the Italians” is a saying that has been printed on many images and has been cited in print since at least 1963.

“Heaven is an American salary, a Chinese cook, an English house, and a Japanese wife. Hell is defined as having a Chinese salary, an English cook, a Japanese house, and an American wife” is a related saying.


Google Books
Time
1963
Pg. 5:
The latest Latin American definition of hell is where the British are the cooks, the French the mechanics, the Germans the police, and the Americans the lovers!
JAMES SINCLAIR SCOTT
Rio de Janeiro

Newspapers.com
10 July 1963, Detroit (MI) Free Press, “Judd Arnett Says” by Judd Arnett, pg. D-8, col. 5:
From the Letters Department of Time Magazine: “The latest Latin American definition of hell is where the British are the cooks, the French the mechanics, the Germans the police, and the Anericans the lovers…

Newspapers.com
1 August 1965, The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), “Southern Accent” by Sam Ragan, pt. 3, pg. 3, col. 1:
A recent letter to the New York Herald Tribune from W. F. Ahlstrom of Stockholm says, “Hell is where the French are the engineers, the British are the cooks, the Germans are the police, the Russians are the historians and the Americans are the lovers.”

The letter brought from Walt Kelly of Pogo fame a letter that said, “There is a last line to that theory. It goes: ‘And the Scandinavians are their brothers’ keepers.’” Another letter writer says, “Hell is also a place where the Swedes tell the jokes.”

Newspapers.com
19 August 1965, The Morning Call (Paterson, NJ), “The Lyons Den” by Leonard Lyons, pg. 24, col. 5:
A Japanese artist who is completing a long trip around the world spent the weekend in the Long Island. He dined with some friends in Water Mill, where he revealed this aspect of his travel studies. It was during a discussion of the definition of Hell, and he said: “Hell is a place where the French are the engineers, the British are the cooks, the Germans are the police, the Russians are the historians, and the Americans are the lovers.”

Newspapers.com
24 August 1965, Vancouver (BC) Sun, “By Erma Bombeck,” pg. 4, col. 4:
CENTERVILLE, Ohio—Dante and Milton had their own ideas on hell, none of which sounded like the definition I came across last week.

“Hell is where the French are the engineers, the British are the cooks, the Germans are the police, the Russians are this historians, and the Americans are the lovers.”

3 May 1967, Boston (MA) Globe, “Webster’s Unafraid Dictionary—IV” by Leonard L. Levinson, pg. 18, col. 6:
HELL—A place where the French are the engineers, the British are the cooks, the Germans are the police, the Russians are the historians and the Americans are the lovers.—Anon. Japanese

Newspapers.com
6 August 1985, Jackson Hole (WY) Guide, “A Pilgrim’s Progress” by Winfred Blevins, pg. A5, col. 1:
Heaven is a place where the policemen are English, the cooks are French, the lovers are Italian, the administrators are Swiss, and the auto mechanics are German. Hell is a place where the cooks are English, the auto mechanics are French, the administrators are Italians, the lovers are Swiss, and the policemen are German.

23 July 1986, The Daily News (Huntingdon, Saxon and Mount Union, PA), pg. 8, col. 6:
“ON THE RELIGIOUS” SIDE: niece Anne Carroll of Charleston, West Virginia, sent me a goodie from a newspaper column in the “Almost Heaven” state: “Heaven is where the cooks are French, the police are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and everything is organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the cooks are English, the police are German, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and everything is organized by the Italians.”

Google News Archive
27 February 1987, The Vindicator (Youngstown, OH), “Nationality stereotypes deceptive” by Jack Smith (Los Angeles Times), pg. 19, col. 1:
I have been moved to think about this by an aphorism on the difference between heaven and hell, according to the occupations assigned in each place to various nationalities. You have probably heard it:

“In heaven: The chefs are French, the police are English; the lovers are Italian; the mechanics are German, and the whole place is run by the Swiss.

“In hell: The chefs are English; the police are German; the lovers are Swiss; the mechanics are French, and the whole place is run by the Italians.”

Google Books
Let’s Talk Quality:
96 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask Phil Crosby

By Philip B. Crosby
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1989
Pg. 35:
He used to tell me the difference between heaven and hell. “Heaven,” he would say, “is a place where the police are English; the chefs are French; the mechanics are German; the administrators are Swiss; and the lovers are Italian.”

“Hell,” he would continue, “is a place where the chefs are the English: the mechanics are French; the police are German; the administrators are Italian; and the lovers are Swiss.”

28 February 1994, Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette, pg. 4A. col. 4:
The T-shirt joke (Heaven is when the police are British, the cooks Italian, the mechanics German, the lovers French and it’s all organized by the Swiss; Hell is when the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German and it’s all organized by the Italians) would be rewritten—as it was in 1939.

Asia Times
Feb 13, 2010
Oedipus wrecks
By Chan Akya
Heaven is where the cooks are French, the policemen are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and the bankers, Swiss. Hell is where the cooks are English, the policemen are German, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and the bankers Italian.
- European joke detailing comfortable stereotypes.

Google Books
Dirty Italian:
Everyday Slang from “What’s Up?” to “F*%# Off!”

By Gabrielle Euvino
Berkeley, CA: Ulysses ; Enfield : Distributed by Publishers Group West
2012
Pg. 68:
“Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers Italian, and it’s all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, the police are German, and it’s all organized by the Italians.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, February 23, 2013 • Permalink