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Knives and napkins: where are they?

Let’s move to something different and lighter: differences when it comes to eating. The first day of my internship I was taken to an Asian Food court to eat. It is located on the fourth floor of a business complex known as Amara. You can eat Chinese, Hainanese, Indian, Korean, Japanaese and other typical Asian cuisine. I opted for Chinese cousine and chose something very light and not suspicious: rise, meat balls and vegatables. Everything fine with that. img00033-20090416-1304

Obiously I feared I would have to eat using chopsticks, something I never actually mastered (usually food gets thrown everywhere when I use them so it’s better not to be anywhere near me!). But I was surprised to see they had forks and spoons. No Knife, though, and no napkins. A quick look around and I discovered that even the other places has spoons and forks but no knives. Why was that? Well, even though cutlery was made of plastic I figured it was because they were afraid people might start stabbing others with knives: news about stabbings from England quickly came to my mind… I would later discover I wasn’t that far off!

The other thing which surprised me was that when I went looking for a place to sit, I saw chairs with tissues or umbrellas on them. I was told that people left something personal – e.g. tissues – to take that seat before going to get their food. Strange, huh? The weirdest part though is that people don’t use tissues to blow their nose: it’s considered rude! They prefer to sniffle, often very loudly ( and I really does get on your nerves!!!!). You’d think they’ve misunderstood the reason tissues were created..!

If tissues are used with another purpose, they also don’t seem to be used as napkins, either. As a matter of act, no napkins are given to you, unless you go to a Western restaurant or a MacDonald’s. So, you may ask, how do they clean their mouth, especially cosidering how fried and oily Asian food is? I guess they don’t, but I still haven’t figured it out… hopefully I’ll get an asnwer by the end of my stay here.

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+1 # RE: Knives and napkins: where are they?Maria Joy Whittaker 2009-04-19 21:42
Even I was pretty surprised there were no knives or napkins but I could never have imagined that it could be due to the fear people might stab each other. Regarding napkins, if you consider some Chinese habits (76% Singapore inhabitants are Chinese) like spitting, rubbing mucous onto a wall, belching I am not surprised they do not use a napkin. Hands are jolly useful in these situations . . . It’s best not to shake hands with someone who has been eating Peking Duck and then rubbed their mouth clean. . .
I could not understand why tables always had a book, umbrella or tussues on it. Now I know!!
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+1 # RE: Knives and napkins: where are they?Riccardo 2009-04-20 12:58
I think the issue with knives may also have to do with the fact that some countries in this region do not use chopsticks but instead use forks and spoons to eat rice. Seeing as rice is eaten at least three times a day (if not more), spoons are used to eat other food as well. If meat or other type of food is too thick, then the good old “eat with your hands” system comes in handy!
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+1 # RE: Knives and napkins: where are they?Alberto Danda 2009-04-20 17:58
IN MY OPINION THIS LAW IS VERY STUPID BECAUSE IT ISN’T VERY GOOD SEE A MANY PERSON WITH A DIRTY MOUTH. I CAN NOT UNDERSTAND.
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+1 # RE: Knives and napkins: where are they?Riccardo 2009-04-20 18:08
Actually there is no law on this subject. It’s a cultural characteristic… but I agree. It does look strange to Westerners.
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+1 # RE: Knives and napkins: where are they?Erica Savegnago 2009-04-22 12:17
I think that the people there are very strange! how can you manage!!!!! ricky come back soon! cross your fingers for me…
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+1 # RE: Knives and napkins: where are they?Anh Da Lat 2011-04-07 13:00
If tissues are used with another purpose, they also don’t seem to be used as napkins, either. As a matter of act, no napkins are given to you, unless you go to a Western restaurant or a MacDonald’s. So, you may ask, how do they clean their mouth, especially cosidering how fried and oily Asian food is? I guess they don’t, but I still haven’t figured it out… hopefully I’ll get an asnwer by the end of my stay here.
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