Today at the dinner table we had a small conversation about manners. It started with Roger saying that it is not nice in this culture and not good manners if you leave food on your plate. You should clear your plate. It doesn’t matter how full you are. Then Ramona added that children are often told that they only get ice-cream if they clear their plates. But when they are already full they first need to finish their food and then eat more with the ice-cream. It seems a bit crazy.
I told that in Indian culture it is also not nice to leave food on your plate. We offer food to God and there is a Goddess of food called Annapoorna. So there is much respect for food and we don’t want to throw it away. In a practical way it also feels very nice to use and eat the food which gives energy for life. There are many hungry people who do not have the possibility to eat much, who do not have any food and knowing this it actually feels nice not to throw food away. I feel sad about it when I see here how much food is wasted and we have so many people in this world who sleep hungry, without having filled their stomach.
Mady said that there are really some differences in culture which are good to know when you go to India. Here I hear it is normal to ask before serving food in a plate how much you would like to eat. In India however this will be considered as bad manners. You are not asked how much you want, they will serve it to you and if you do not want more, you can say it.
Ramona asked: What happens if they put too much onto your plate from the beginning? When I was travelling in India and was invited for food somewhere and I got a big plate filled with so many different dishes and a lot of food, I asked the host for an empty plate before starting to eat. Then I put that food onto the empty plate which I knew would be too much. I kept a little bit from everything so that I did not seem disrespectful. I showed that I wanted to eat their food but before eating I took that much off my plate which otherwise would have been wasted. So everybody could take from that and if I wanted more I would also still ask for some more.
I do not like to leave food in the plate but sometimes it also happens because in India those who are serving want you to eat a lot and sometimes they put it into my plate without asking of even after me saying no. Then I never force myself to eat and finish the plate because I am not in favour of violating my body. Someone forced the food onto my plate but I will not force it into my body. My stomach says I am full. Of course I would always prefer not to throw the food away. But not because of my manners but because of my respect for this food.