I recently heard this joke:
Kennst du den Unterschied zwischen der Hölle und dem Himmel? Also, Himmel ist ein Hotel, da ist der deutsche Hotelleiter, der Franzose ist in der Küche, der Italiener ist an der Rezeption und das Zimmermädchen ist eine Finnin. Die Hölle ist auch ein Hotel, auch die gleichen Leute. Der Deutsche in der Küche, der Franzose macht die Leitung, und die Finnin ist an der Rezeption, und der Italiener macht die Zimmer.
This is not from a newspaper or so, it was part of a conversation in a business context in a large German company, and all participants were home-grown Germans.
My problem is: I do not get it. I know about various stereotypes in German everyday culture about certain characteristics of certain nations, so Italians are said to be chaotic (but very communicative), French have excellent cuisine (but are believed to be unorganised), etc. However, in this joke some things seem awkward:
Germans are not that much famous for horrible cuisine, and certainly they would not assign this feature to themselves
I am not aware of any stereotype concerning Finns (except perhaps that they tend to be friendly but depressive due to the long winter; or that they take in large amounts of alcohol if left alone, but I do not see how this relates to the reception job)
The question is: are there regions in Germany where German cuisine is said to be bad, and there are stereotypes regarding Finns that would fit the joke (and even make it funny)? Or could it be that this joke has been taken and directly translated from some other cultural-linguistic area, e.g. the Anglosaxon world or so? Or where (geographically) would those exact stereotypes be living?
(If someone feels like remarking that this is not a question related to rules, grammar and lexems of German: well... I would argue that stereotypes are as much part of a lingustic system as rules of grammar are.)
As some commenters were asking: no, the company where this took place has nothing to do with Finland in particular (beyond selling their products and services to Finland as to any other country in the world). Finland has not any particular role here. And it is a genuine German company, no Scandinavian roots, ownership, history, or whatever. Management is predominantly German, although as everywhere in companies of that size various foreign individuals may be hired, too.