During a conference I attended in Malaysia, the organizers invited the participants to a buffet dinner. I thought the common practice at buffets is to try a little bit (or may be more) of everything. So I chosen couple of things and had my eye on other looking delicious food items for my second round. When everyone at my big round table of eight finished eating they kept still. No one left the table for another dish. I looked around to see if I am sitting at the worst buffet eaters table but no one in any other table seemed interested in a second round. Back then I used to get embarrassed of doing things no one else does. So, I sucked it up and sat on the table leaving my stomach and my brain fighting over the most important question at that moment; to refill or not to refill. My stomach lost and went to bed not over stuffed.
To my surprise, the Malaysians did the most incredible thing anyone could ever think of. When everyone was ready to leave everyone went to the buffet and put the leftovers in small bags. It was the first time I have ever seen anything like that. Coming from a totally different background I thought, only that time because I was naive, that this behavior is shameful. In the Arab world taking leftovers is considered a no-no behavior. It is what the Arabs call “عيب” or loosely translated as shame.
Arabs are known to be good hosts. We take pride of how much food we cook when inviting people. I admire the good hospitality of Arabs but what I dislike is the insane abundant amount of food they cook when inviting people. In their culture, the more leftovers means the more generous the host is.
I found this short documentary about raising the awareness concerning the leftovers food in Jordan at Saja’s blog. I liked its topic and that it is translated and also professionally done.
[click picture to play video]
In the US, it is normal for customers at restaurants to ask for take away boxes if they have any food left. If you know that the restaurant is going to throw your leftovers food in the garbage wouldn’t you be responsible for this waste?