One aspect of life where I could really tell the cultural difference–from having both lived in the Philippines and the US–would be having lunch at work. Most days I just eat lunch with Timmy inside the comforts of our car. But on days when I feel an extra dose of courage, I actually spend half-an-hour eating food and small talking with my coworkers.
Sharing vs. Don’t You Dare Touch My Food Mentality
I’ve never really paid any attention to the fact before, but after almost two years of living in this country, I realized that Filipinos have very different eating habits as compared to Americans. For one, we consume a scary amount of rice (not just for lunch but for every meal, even snacks if we have the time and convenience some days). Have you heard of a restaurant here in the US serving unlimited servings of rice? No? Ask any true-blooded Filipino about it and I bet you they’ve visited one at least once in their lives (if not within the current month).
One major difference is how food is shared, especially if you’re not eating with your family. Whenever I eat lunch with friends and coworkers in the Philippines, it’s fairly common to share food, especially if you’re in a restaurant setting–we would order food for everyone and pass the plates around. Even if we’re packing our own lunches or eating at a carinderia, it’s common practice to share your food.
I like this practice, overall.
I mean, I’m sure there were moments when I felt bitter sharing food with somebody I didn’t really care much about but was forced to because “manners“. But the fact that I can’t really think of an instance at the top of my head means that I really didn’t mind it for the most part (or I’m just good at avoiding
eating with people).
Here in the US, however, I rarely share food with anybody aside from Timmy. During Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, sure we’ve shared food with family. But other than that, unless you’re ordering appetizers that was “obviously” meant for everyone (even though it’s really not that obvious, at times, and a verbal signal has to be made–“Hey, you could pick some food here even though our fingers already touched it, y’know?“), you better keep your disgusting fingers on your own food, or else…
I could only imagine asking food from my “special” co-worker who throws a fit at every little thing, like having something on his desk rearranged by even a fraction of an inch, or actually being asked to do his job (ha, now that’s a jab if there ever was one!).
Everybody brings or orders their own lunch at work (unless it’s the company pizza day, yay!) and rarely does anybody share or ask for a piece of anybody’s food. Americans are individualistic creatures. I mean, it’s good because you avoid the risks of dealing with a food moocher. And you avoid the awkwardness of determining the limit of food you’re willing to share. But I kind of miss the communal and sharing atmosphere of Filipinos when it comes to eating.
I guess that’s why I eat food with my darling husband. What’s his is mine, after all (and not necessarily the other way around…)