Despite all the food scandals happening in China, food intake is still one of the favorite occupations of the average Chinese. First breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and an overwhelmingly rich dinner. Rice, noodles, countless vegetables, pork, beef, chicken, seafood, fish… Every day amazing traditional Chinese dishes are cooked in all the Chinese kitchens by Chinese mothers all around the world. Just as well as in my new Chinese mom’s kitchen (I call her mom because I cannot pronounce her name properly). As tradition requires we always have more dishes than people sitting at the table. More than plenty of food for everybody one might assume, but it is not as simple as that.
Now please imagine an idyllic scene from an old European sentimental movie with regional background, mountains and grassland everywhere. A beautiful house framed by a flower garden, a big dinner table, a mother, a father and a daughter, everything is happier than ever. That is my family. Growing up with every person having their own plates with food, no siblings who wanted to eat my share as well, and still some leftovers available back in the kitchen, I always had enough to eat and never felt the urge to feed like a horse. Rather, it was the opposite: my mom always complained about how I barely touched my share.
When I first ate with my new Chinese family, it felt like a battlefield. War on a dinner table. Everyone grabbed as much food as they could, like there was no tomorrow, like there was no more food left on the world, like they did not get anything to eat for days… no, years! I still struggled with handling my chopsticks in the beginning, and seeing all these people eating all the delicious dishes I started to feel like I was being left out… on an amount of food we all could possibly never finish. And so I started to train to use chopsticks faster, so I also could eat like them – more, faster. Long story short: (1) I can use chopsticks like a pro now. (2) I never had so many stomach aches in my life before. (3) Needless to say I started to gain looots of weight in the beginning and am super sporty now to keep my weight.
Have you ever had a similar experience? Do you feel the same while eating with your Chinese/Asian family and friends? I would love to hear your stories (and I would be so happy to hear that I am not the only one).