Over a year ago, I was having lunch in the Forum with my Dutch colleagues and I had a dish of chips that was quite big, so I couldn’t fi nish it. One guy asked me if he could have it. I hesitated but I said: “Errr.... Mmm... OK”. I was wondering if it is normal here for people to eat leftovers from other people’s plates.
In my country, at a family meal there are often several different dishes which are not divided among the diners but put in the middle of the table to be shared. However, when we students have lunch in the canteen we just have individual plates of food, just as we do here in the Forum. We certainly do not eat other people’s leftovers (unless, maybe, the food is something as irresistible and delicious as salmon roe!)
Anyway, after that time I thought it wasn’t a big deal because it was only chips, which are quite dry. I could bring myself to eat some leftover chips from friends. However, recently I was having lunch in the Forum with another group of friends. I could not believe it when my Dutch friend asked me if he could finish my leftover soup. ‘How sick is that!’ I thought. I would never dare to finish anyone’s leftover soup, not even if it was a family member or my boyfriend. So I asked him ‘Really?’ to let him know that I did not think it was OK. But he just said, ‘Why not, can I?’ In the end I said yes.
Not having eaten with Dutch friends very often, I have not learned much about the eating culture here. However my experiences confused me a bit and I have been thinking: either it is because the Dutch are concerned not to waste food, or it is normal behaviour here. Or was it an isolated case? I hope so. Phuong Thuy Vu, Vietnamese PhD candidate, Farm technology group, Plant Science Group.
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