The cacophony and dissonance of children crying, adults talking, food sizzling, T.V. talking, music blasting, and kids babbling can only be found at one place: the food court. Yes, that’s where I did my observation of stalking stranger’s eating habits and yes that’s the reasoning behind why you’re probably listening to the absurd fast food song right now. I knew I could be normal and go a restaurant or a cafe as instructed, but I wanted to be me and go some place with an unique atmosphere where I can experience more than just one type of food. I was so inspired by the article International Table Manners that I wanted to find all the glitches and eating habits people had that would be considered unacceptable in other countries.
As I walked around the food court located within the Brea Mall, I found myself lost in a sea of people who were each doing their own individual thing, completely disregarding all that is happening around them. I was so fascinated by all the different actions that I couldn’t focus my attention to one table. Therefore, I did a general scan and took some statistics. Now, as an Asian American, I would not consider Panda Express as legitimate Chinese food, but it’s the next best thing. Because of that, I chose to count how many people actually used chop sticks to eat their “Chinese” food. Out of the 16 people that were eating Panda Express, only one of them is using chop sticks. This did strike me as a little surprising, but it’s understandable because I know chop sticks aren’t the easiest utensils to use.
After about twenty minutes of getting food and wandering around, I managed to find a table located in the outer area so I can observe others more easily. At the table in front of me, there was a couple in their mid-20’s having lunch. The lady had a baked potato loaded with cream cheese, green onion, shredded cheese, and of course bacon while the gentleman ate some broccoli beef from Panda Express. As the meal carried on, the lady poked at her food and barely touched it. The couple was having a conversation about how their day was going and they left shortly after I was seated. When the couple was leaving, I caught a glimpse of how much potato was left in the container as they headed to trashed their food and I found myself to be a little irritated. Of course I have seen people throw away food before and it would always annoy me when people practice their wasteful habits. This one lady is a representation of us as Americans and we as Americans always forget how blessed we are as human beings to have the privilege to enjoy the rights and products of this country. I know it sounds cliché but there are other human beings, just like you and me, starving half way across the globe and the least we can do is to be considerate and not be so wasteful.
As I retracted my emotions, I look to my right and I see a mother with her two children. The children were each eating a pretzel hot dog from Wetzel’s Pretzels and the mom had a nacho from Taco Bell. There was no utensils used except for their fingers. If they practiced those table manners in the country of Chile, they would be considered rude, ignorant tourists in a heart beat. However, if they were in the country of Thailand, then they would be considered normal. This demonstration just goes to show that the different cultural differences that retain specifically to food.
Before I took this class, I never took the time to observe how other’s eat their food because in the American culture, we don’t generally scold people for table manners. I’m glad that I’m a little bit more educated about different table manners of different cultures. I was a little freaked out about having to stalk, I mean observe other people eat before I started the assignment but it turned out to be so interesting. Anyways, I learned about the different manners that are associated with food and to be more educated is always a good thing.