Why My Plate is Clean

“Do you have Chinese blood or something?”

A co-worker asked me when we were eating lunch in the canteen.

I wondered where did that question come from. I don’t have small ‘Asian’ eyes nor the skin complexion of the eastern asian race. I’m brown with medium tantalizing  eyes.

“Your plate looks like it has been licked by a dog. “

She sure was giving attention to my way of eating. She explained I must have had those habits presumpting I came from a Chinese family.

Just googled “clean plate” and found this picture amusing. (from rlnaquin.com)

I wanted to tell her the history why I eat every single bit of food leaving only the bones (licked and meat-free to its core). To not feel really weird on narrating my life history to someone I don’t really feel close, I settled with a brief answer.

“No ma’am. I just eat this way.” I answered her, smiling.

In my mind, thoughts raced from the very reason why my plate is clean. It was because of Father. He is a farmer. In my childhood, I have lived seeing how every single kernel of corn and grain of rice is painstakingly made.

My father was a strict disciplinarian. However, formal eating manners like using spoon and forks, washing hands, sitting properly, and making less noise as possible were not on his list. He had just one. EAT WHAT IS SERVED.

Whether you like the food or not, you must eat what’s on the table. It can range from your most hated vegetable or the way the dish was cooked. (They don’t offer us something really exotic or poisonous by the way). You just have to eat or DIE in hunger.

Military style. I liked that. You see, I am grateful for it because now, I almost eat everything else. That means, I can thrive anywhere, at any household. I wont be tagged as the ‘choosy spoiled brat kid whose will is the command.’

He had also this one addition to eating what is served rule: CONSUME WHAT’S ON YOUR PLATE. He did not went knocking on our conscience narrating how other kids in some parts of the world do not have food and how lucky we are that we have this. That’s more of mother’s cliches.

Instead, he settled with the argument that food is scarce, and that it is a blessing. (That sounds pretty much the same point but he does not go through the cliche above). This much applies when we are invited in an occasion, say a buffet dinner, we are only to put food we can consume. He adds “Leaving a little bit of food wont make you look more classy. Don’t follow those socialites always leaving a piece of food on your plate. They don’t know real food.”

I don’t really know why some people don’t eat down to the last grain of food. I guess they have there own reasons; whatever that could be, I respect them. They’re lucky they did not have the same father as I have. Or probably not.



13 thoughts on “Why My Plate is Clean

  1. My dad had pretty much the same rules when it came to food. He never bothered to give me a lot of explanation for it either. And when I say military style, I mean it quite literally- My dad was in the armed forces. So when he said “Everything that has been prepared has to be eaten.” or “Finish everything on your plate.”, that’s exactly what would happen.
    Just like that.
    I was born in a vegetarian family though, so I haven’t quite perfected the art of leaving bones meat-free to the core.. But I’m getting there. 🙂

  2. Wow, I could really relate to your view on unfinished food. I was also trained not to have leftovers. Aside from experiencing scarcity of food at some point in my life, specially when I became independent, my folks inculcated the value of giving importance to the hard-work that preceded the grace. I even have no qualms finishing the food from other people’s plate if necessary. There should be no leftovers at home and I think that’s the culprit for my increasing weight, at times.

    This is a very important post Dale. A thought that needs to be shared just so we’ll be reminded about some of the essential things that we should value. Great post!

  3. I had the same upbringing, too. We were taught to appreciate what food we have on the table. And I remember one occasion lurve during our Basic Leadership Training with Red Cross Youth that emphasized how lucky we are to have food on the table. 🙂

  4. pareho pala tayo i eat everything that’s on my plate.. paminsan pati yung soft bones ng chicken kinakain ko… nanghihinayang kasi ako sa food.. kaya paminsan pati left over ng mga kasama ko kinakain ko or tinatake home hehe

  5. I can totally relate with you. Even our religion preaches not to waste the blessings of God and food is definitely among the foremost blessings. You’ve given us all an awesome perspective. Awesome post!

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