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What the HECK is wrong with them? They have mutated into hulk-like monstrosities, even as our activity levels continue to dwindle.
I see food challenges everywhere – ‘If you can eat this gargantuan breakfast within one hour, then you get it for free!’ ‘Try the Biggest Burger Challenge! How many layers of questionable meat patties and plastic cheez can you eat in 20 minutes??’ ‘This Icecream SuperMegaQuintuple Elephant-Bird-Crap Sundae has 30,000 calories! Huzzah!!’
Yay. Free heart disease.
Might as well play Russian Roulette for kicks.
When did it all become about quantity, rather than quality? And I guess that’s an indictment on society in general.
Although my general eating capacity is probably considerably more than the average Japanese woman of my age and height, I can’t eat large amounts of sweet food, such as cake and chocolate.
Remember the friend who I nearly considered “unfriending” over her love of the gym? Well, as it happens, there was an incident, not long after our first meeting, when I’m pretty sure she had to similarly reconsider our suitability as friends.
We had taken our children to softplay – those deliciously unhygienic, acoustically challenged, sweaty dens of fun – directly after school, and while the kids were hurling themselves about with gay abandon, we decided it was the perfect time for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
I looked at their selection and was tempted by the chocolate fudge cake, BUT it had been sliced into the most ridiculously HUGE slabs, and I knew I’d struggle with it.
“Shall we share a cake?” I suggested brightly.
There was almost a creaking sound as she slowly turned her head to look at me, an expression on her face that made me wonder if I had accidently said, “Shall we lick the floor in the ball pit?” instead.
“Share a cake? SHARE? SHAAAARRRE a cake??” she repeated.
I thought she was joking, so I said, “Hahahahaha!....Yes. Share a cake,” and that was nearly the end of our promising friendship.
I have since learned that ‘sharing’ (especially a cake) is not even something she does with her own beloved daughter, or probably Jesus himself, so I had to buy the cake anyway, and I watched with fascination as she ate her enormous slice of cake, and then finished off the half of MY cake which, surprise surprise, I couldn’t finish.
Now, she is an exception to the rule, because she probably expends 3 times the number of calories most athletes burn a day, but no one needs to eat that much.
There is a HUGE difference in the way food is viewed in Japan. Food has to look, taste, smell and feel amazing. Presentation is key – the colours should coordinate; there should be balance between different food groups; there should be artistry in the arrangement of the dishes and trays.
Nothing could be more off-putting – disgusting, in fact – than one individual plate, heaped with a mixed up mound of indeterminate ‘stuff’, all muddled up and messy, and dumped unceremoniously in front of you. Enough to kill the appetite permanently.
Funnily enough, when my son was weaning and starting to eat a wider variety of food, he began to insist that every different food item was placed in separate bowls. A pile of peas absolutely SHOULD NOT touch the slivers of grilled chicken, or the small mound of rice. We bought a set of Ikea plastic bowls, and one single meal could use up 5 or 6 of the little buggers. Even gravy had to be served separately in a little silver jug – we called it the Little Lord Fauntleroy Jug.
I won’t deny that this behaviour worried me at first – I knew it was ONE of the things that children on the autistic spectrum had strong feelings about. However, the more I think about it now, the more sense it makes to me. My son actually had very healthy eating habits (in those days, anyway!)
He liked to be able to taste each individual element of his balanced meal, and when he’d had enough, he had no problem stopping.
Then I realised it is also the way Japanese people serve their food. Since vowing to cook and eat more Japanese food, we have had to buy a new dresser to store the myriad tiny plates and bowls of different sizes required to serve separate dishes. It’s like…Oriental tapas. Just a grown-up version of plastic Ikea bowls.
There is another very fundamental difference between the way food is served in a Japanese household, compared to a British/western one; as a child, I was used to sitting in front of an empty plate, and helping myself to small amounts from communal plates in the centre of the table. This is how the Chinese eat also. The whole point of going to a Chinese restaurant is ordering a variety of dishes which everyone can then share and try.
I was never more horrified in my life when I went to a Chinese restaurant with a British friend, and he ordered ONE dish off the menu, and a bowl of rice – and just ate that! As if it was a portion of sausage and chips! That somehow seemed on par with bringing a large bowl of pasta, a salad and a basket of bread to the table, and then have one of the guests take the salad, stick it on their place mat and chomp through the whole bowl without sharing!
I’ve noticed the British way is to make a certain amount of food, and then simply divide it between all the plates available. Therefore, if someone has made a stew for 4 people, you WILL get a quarter of that amount in your bowl – whether you wanted that much or not.
Learning to coexist with someone who eats in this way was difficult, and also fattening. At first, I’d find that I’d take a small amount (because it’s only polite, if you’re Japanese…and anyway, I was reserving the right to have seconds if appropriate), only to find Hubby would sweep the remainder onto his plate – thus removing the possibility of seconds! I started to develop a ‘survival of the fittest’ type anxiety, where if I wasn’t quick, I might not get enough to eat. I began to take half of whatever was on offer, regardless of how much I actually NEEDED to eat, just to ensure I had a fair allocation. This was ridiculously bad news for my body – a 5 ft nothing Japanese girl, trying to keep up with a 6 ft 6 man with a fast metabolism.
We have both had to adjust our habits and expectations, in order to stay healthy. I still maintain that, in this at least, the Japanese way is more sensible, encourages greater appreciation of food, and will result ultimately in fewer calories consumed.
Mind you, I think my anxiety just increased again; I have a nine year old daughter who can eat double what I eat, is nearly as tall as I am, and has the metabolism of a hyperactive mosquito. However, as she was born a food connoisseur, the quality of what she eats is at least as important as the quantity!