Last autumn I was working at a Dutch event over the weekend. We supplied our guests with free coffee, tea, cookies and fruit. The event organizers did not announce that all the snacks were free, so at first most guests did not touch them because they thought they had to pay. However, after realising that all the snacks were on the house, people started packing them in their backpacks, handbags and even jackets.
Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
It was still early and the event was not nearly over. Where I come from it is weird to carry off food in the middle of an event or party. In fact, most people don’t like to be seen taking food and snacks home at all. Food is usually left behind and if you do want to take something home, you secretly and politely ask the kitchen staff after the event if it is OK to do so. But here it seems to be the norm to put food in your pocket or bag in the middle of an event without considering that other people who come later might miss out.
On the same day I invited my friends to dinner. I made a typical meal from my country and they offered to bring desserts and drinks. But after dinner I was perplexed when everyone packed up the leftovers of what they had brought and left. In my country it is considered courteous to leave the leftovers for the host just in case another guest walks in.
Monica Mbuthia, a Master’s student of Development studies, from Kenya
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