Thursday, December 29, 2005

finish your food

finish your food

i have many asian friends. i also live with two asian people, one boy, one girl. so i can say with confidence that i have eaten with asian people plenty of times.

one thing i’ve picked up on, is what i like to call “the ritual of the last piece”. this phenomenon occurs only when food is being shared aka family style. everyone has their own personal plate, but the food is dished from main serving plates located at a central location.

when the food portions start to dwindle, i’ve noticed that the plate with the most food is attacked first, and the plates that are just about finished are left alone.

if there’s one dumpling left on a huge plate, it will sit and sit while everyone eats at the fried rice plate that’s still heaping. soon we’re left with 4-5 plates with very little food left on each.

this is what kills me. then my asian friends will cut things in half, claiming that they can only eat half of the dumpling that’s left. then that half will be halved by someone else, leaving a quarter of a dumpling.

being the perceptive person that i am, i finally picked up that it’s deemed somewhat rude to finish the last piece/bite/morsel of some dish when everyone is sharing. if you ate 25 dumplings and there were only 30 to begin with, no problem. if you eat the last dumpling without halving it (even if it’s your first one) then disgrace on your house and may your crops fail next year!!

now there is a way that you can get around finishing a that last bit of food. someone has to instruct you. “frank, here, eat the last won ton”. frank is in the clear! may sunshine forever follow him on his worldly journeys, frank had permission to eat the last one!

this game was invisible to me for many years. i was the rude cleanup king. i’d just pick up the last dumpling and shove it in my mouth before it could sit and get cold, then halved, then quartered.

i feel that since i wasn’t raised asian, i can get away with breaking the rules. i claimed ignorance up until now. now i am aware, and declare myself exempt from “the ritual of the last piece”.

maybe back in china 2000bc food was scarce and everyone needed to eat just one dumpling or else they’d starve or die. in 2005 soon to be 2006, i can’t name a friend who hasn’t said to me that they feel they could stand to lose a pound or ten. so what is this tradition still doing around here?

it’s like people who call mobile phones, ‘cell phones’. the cell phone is dead, it died with zack morris’s brick-for-a-phone. all phones are digital now, hence my reference to them as mobile phones. but cell phone is still the preferred name by 99% of the population. but the name stuck and stays with us here today, as does “the ritual of the last piece”


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