Earth Hour

Zero Hunger Challenge

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pinoy Quirk 2: Eat all you can... and cannot

I attended two seminars this week which had a mix of local and foreign participants. In both occasions, we were given free buffet lunch.  Both meals were good but I witnessed another strange behaviour among my fellow participants.

The first instance happened in an inter-agency forum I attended.  While waiting in line for my turn to get my food from the buffet table, I noticed that some of the Filipino participants were taking so much time getting their food.  Three women seemed to be discussing what to get for lunch.  I just watched them as they continue their little chit chat while putting food in their plates.

When the women turned to go back to their seats my eyes almost popped out of their sockets when I saw their plates.  Each plate was so full, I swear the food in there was good enough for two people each.  Not only that, one of the plates have noodles hanging along the brim.  It was an embarrassing sight and mind you, the women are not the type that you would expect to behave that way. 

I looked around and discovered that several participants also filled their plates so much that one cannot blame someone who sees it and wonders whether there would be famine the following day.  The foreign participants, on the other hand, have just enough or even little food in their plates.

I thought that behaviour was only peculiar to that group but the same thing happened in the next seminar I attended.  This time, a group of men in their 40s was ahead of me in the line to the buffet table.  The men were talking about the topic of the last speaker but as they talked, they were busy piling food onto their plates.  By the time they finished, their plates were brimming and they put the food one on top of the other I swear it looked like a pile of leftovers.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with our French Language instructor.  He told us that he often wondered how we Filipinos are able to enjoy the taste of what we are eating because we often mix our food when we eat.  He told us that we should eat food one at a time.  Like don't eat fried chicken with spaghetti because you won't be able to enjoy the taste of each food.

I didn't see whether both groups ate everything they put in their plates because if they didn't, it would have been really stupid.

This leads us to another strange thing I observed about Filipinos eating in a buffet.  Some of us have the tendency to try everything on the buffet table even if it is the strangest looking food ever.  Well, it's okay to try everything once but there are really some of us who would get so much of the food and when they realized they don't like it, they just stop eating it and leave the food in their plates.  Such practice definitely leads to a lot of wastage so no wonder restaurants who offer buffet meals often have a "no left over policy"; leave something on your plate and you will pay a higher price.

This leaves me thinking about the admonition we often get when we were kids whenever we leave something on our plates, especially rice. 

The old folks would tell us that if we didn't eat everything in our plates and we die, St. Peter will stop us at the gates of Heaven and ask us to pick one by one the grains of rice we left on our plates.  Another version of this was that we would stay in Purgatory for years equivalent to the total number of rice grains we left on our plates.

With what is happening now, perhaps none of us learned from this lesson or we simply stopped believing in old folks' tales.

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