But You Haven’t Eaten Anything!

In many cultures, it’s considered to be a sign of hospitality to encourage others to eat.  The best way to make a guest feel at home is to bring them plates of food until they can no longer move, and then to exclaim, “but you haven’t eaten anything!”  Or to ask someone who has eaten modest portions why they haven’t eat much and if they might be ill.  I certainly enjoy situations like this on occasion, because it makes me feel like royalty; not to mention the fact that there are some truly phenomenal cooks in the world.

But if these situations of being encouraged to eat too much happen on a regular basis, it becomes a burden.  It is difficult too eat enough to please your host without making yourself sick, or to praise the food profusely enough that you can get by without offending, or to come up with a convincing excuse, often a lie, as to why you can eat no more.

We're having pastries for dinner tonight! (If only my mom had ever said that...)

We’re having pastries for dinner tonight! (If only my mom had ever said that…)

Nutrition is certainly a confusing thing, and new studies still come out on a regular basis with new information on what we should or shouldn’t eat, how we should eat, or when we should eat.  I have made it one of my goals to teach my students (and their parents) about proper nutrition, but I’ve realized that one of the major obstacles is that many people just don’t know what good nutrition is.  I think this is the same issue with food as hospitality; it is unclear whether eating more is good or bad.  In some situations, eating more might give you the necessary nutrients that you might not otherwise have gotten, and if you do not have enough to eat normally, it is helpful to be served too much every once in a while.  But if you make a point of eating only healthful foods and in appropriate quantities, being to told eat more can be annoying or offensive.

Look at all of those fruits and vegetables!  I'll trade in my pastries for some of those clementines.

Look at all of those fruits and vegetables! I’ll trade in my pastries for some of those clementines.

When I cook for myself, I like to make dishes like lentil soup with cauliflower instead of potatoes, or bread with yogurt instead of butter in order to make them a little healthier.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy some pastries every once in a while.

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One thought on “But You Haven’t Eaten Anything!

  1. Oh, how I miss being asked to eat more of those mouth-watering Moroccan pastries!!! I see them all in my dreams! I do my best to cook them at home, but either I have black thumb in cooking or I am cursed to enjoy the Real Tasty Food only in Morocco 🙂 And I hear you on healthy eating, too! I’ve come to a conclusion, that the recent obsession with healthy eating is a Western thing. It came as a natural consequence of decades of UN-healthy eating habits. Now the Westerners have to fight obesity, heart diseases, etc., etc., in order to save their lives. While a country like Morocco has never been spoiled with UN-healthy fast-food and frozen dinners. And despite eating much (including endless pastries fried on oil, dipped in butter, covered in honey) the ingredients are all natural and the cooking is home-based. So, one does get all the required nutrients AND quite a bit of pleasure.

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