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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Culture Shock: Portion Sizes

We must look like freaks around here. Let me try to explain.

Story #1: A few days ago we went to Pizza Hut (the ambiance at Pizza Hut could be a whole separate's one of the nicest restaurants in the city). On the menu there are 3 sizes of pizza, small, medium, and large. Next to the sizes it tells you how many people it will feed. The Mrs. and I ordered the large pizza which is for 5-6 people. We (just the 2 of us) ate almost all of it.

Story #2: About 3 weeks ago, we went to a local restaurant that serves really good satay. This menu also told the number of people a particular dish would serve. The satay dish came with around 8-10 skewers of chicken. I would roughly estimate that 8-10 satay skewers is about 6-8 oz. of chicken, a very manageable portion size. But....the menu thought that 8-10 satay skewers was enough for 5 people. We each ordered an entire dish for ourselves and finished them easily. If you go by the menu, between the 4 of us, we ordered enough to feed 20 people. 

What does that look like to people around here? Well, I don't know for sure, but I want to try to understand things from their perspective. So, I try to translate it to my home culture and think about how I would feel or what I would think if I saw someone do something similar. First, I try to boil a situation to it's most generic elements. In this case, I'm a foreigner eating at a fairly nice restaurant eating way more food than everyone around me, about 5 times as much food to be precise. Next, I take that generic situation and move it to America. This is the fun part. So for this I choose Japanese tourist* (the foreigners) eating at Outback (a fairly nice restaurant) ordering 5 x 10 oz. rib eyes each (way more food than usual). 

That's a hilarious picture! I mean you would think they didn't understand how much food they were getting or you would think they couldn't read the menu or something. The waiter would be like, " mean you want 5 steaks total, right?" "No, 5 each, please." "But each steak is enough for 1 person." "We want 5 each." "Alright, whatever." So he brings their order out. It covers the whole table. Everyone's looking thinking maybe they're competitive eaters or something. Nobody thinks they can eat it all, but sure enough, they eat every single steak. I mean, how shocked would you be if you saw that? You would go tell all your friends. You would remember that for years to come. Every time you drove past an Outback you would retell that story about when those 4 Japanese tourists each ate 5 steaks. 

So that's why we feel like freaks sometimes.

*Kobayashi may or may not have (but definitely did) influence my choice.

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