How we consume food

Having dinner every night with the same person makes you notice things that you don’t normally do. Now, I don’t know if the following difference is a cultural difference or a more personal one, but I think it’s the reason why my JBQ rarely eats all his vegetables.

Let’s say that our main entree consists of a meat chunk and some vegetables (e.g. a pork chop and long green beans, or a beef steak and some peas). The way I eat is that I cut a small bit of the meat, I put it in my mouth and immediately I get a forking out of the vegetables and then mix it in my mouth, munching the two items together. I repeat until I finish my plate, and if some salad is around, I might eat some of it in the midst too. I always make sure that at towards the end of my plate, I have as many veggies left as I have meat, so I can eat them in the same number of “forkings”. AFAIK, all the Greeks I know eat the same way too. We mix several flavors in our mouth.

The way JBQ does it, is this: he cuts meat, he eats it and he repeats until about 1/3 of the meat is out. Then, he takes a forking of the vegetables and he eats that. Then, he continues with the rest of the meat until he has eaten about 2/3s of it at which point takes another stub at the vegetables. After he has eaten all the meat, there are plenty of vegetables left in the plate, at which point he usually eats them alone, and sometimes he just goes half way through to them and then he stops eating them and proceeds to the cheese (French people eat green salad and cheese after the main meal).

No, I don’t think that he is trying to avoid the vegetables. I think the key here is the fact that he never mixes flavors and this forces him to eat too many veggies at once at the end (that usually have minimum flavor) and so he bails out on them. He is used to not eat meat together with something else, I just don’t know if this is the way JBQ eats, or a French thing in general…

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Adam wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 2:45 AM PST:

How can you truly enjoy any item if you can’t taste it by itself?

As someone who cooks quite a bit, I would generally avoid the so-called “Greek” way of eating. To enjoy the best quality food, you can’t recklessly mash it up with several unrelated flavors.

There’s no way that a *good* piece of meat is enhanced by the additional of whatever bland vegetable you have microwaved. As noted by some comments above, certain foods are intended to be combined – such as beef with mushrooms, or chicken and rice. However, many foods — meats especially – are best enjoyed with a sauce or a spice rub, and then side dishes are consumed separately.

A piece of sirloin (lean, generally less flavorful meat) or baked chicken would almost definitely benefit from a scoop of something else, whereas a well-marbled steak from the short loin or rib primal (if prepared properly) would probably be best enjoyed without the distraction of something like canned green beans or corn.

This isn’t to say I don’t ever combine foods. Merely that the addition of flavors doesn’t always serve to enhance the intended taste.

Ludovic Hirlimann wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 4:36 AM PST:

It depends on the vegies. If the meat is served with a mushroom sauce for instance , I’m sure he would mix flavors.
I do the same thing meat or fish, then vegies – but I don’t think it’s cultural.

Stefan Constantinescu wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 4:47 AM PST:

Romanian here, and we eat just like you describe the Greeks. Try to get as many flavors in our mouth as possible. However once we reach the 50% mark of our meal we start drinking some wine.

People think I’m crazy when I put a huge salad bowl in the middle of the table and everyone eats out of it. Apparently in the states everyone gets their own little bowl. Makes no sense to me, but then again I make no sense to them.

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Eugenia wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 4:56 AM PST:

> People think I’m crazy when I put a huge salad bowl in the middle of the table and everyone eats out of it

Yup, that’s how we do it in Greece too. :)

Bryan Bell wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 7:18 AM PST:

I eat the same way as JBQ. In my family me and my granpa eat the same way (and my father to a lesser extent). My mom likes to mix flavors. We eat from separate bowls to prevent the spread of diseases such as colds!

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Eugenia wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 7:51 AM PST:

Adam, personally, if I eat more than 3 forks of meat all by themselves in succession, I would throw up. I prefer to eat it with some veggies just so they don’t feel so “meaty” to me.

Rich Steiner wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 8:52 AM PST:

Interesting. My wife and I tend to eat things in a manner different from each other *and* different from either of you.

I tend to eat a bite in a round-robin fashion from each type of food on the plate, moving from meat to veggie #1 to veggie #2 to bread (or whatever) and back again.

My wife tends to concentrate first on the food she likes the least when it gets cold, and she usually completely finishes that before moving on to the next item on the plate.

Must be a Northern Minnesota versus Southern Minnesota thing. :-)

Thom Holwerda wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 10:19 AM PST:

This is a personal thing. MY father mashes *everything* on his plate to one big mash (traditional Dutch dinners consist of a piece of meat, a vegetable, and cooked potatoes).

I, for instance, eat everything separately, and generally do not start eating something else before I’m through with what I was eating. Usually it’s meat first, then the vegetables, and then the potatoes (either cooked or baked). I’m very strict in this (obsessive-compulsive as I am).

My mother just takes random bits here and there, but never two things at the same time that do not belong to one another.

As Adam said, some things just don’t belong together.

tOnGAs wrote on December 29th, 2006 at 12:20 PM PST:

Must be a french thing. I eat exactly the same way as JBQ. Ending with salad and cheese is a way to finish the meal with the best flavour (for my taste).

Michael Walsh wrote on December 30th, 2006 at 5:34 AM PST:

Firstly, I always aim to have potatoes (Either baked, boiled jacket, or mashed with onion), a chunk of meat or fish, 2-3 types of veg (mainly from sprouts, peas, runner beans, cabbage, turnip) and a sauce/gravy, otherwise the dinner isn’t complete for me.

But I was really surprised to see Eugenia write about how she eats. This isn’t something I’ve thought about before but I too eat the meat with some veg and chew. And around halfway I tend change my eating so that I’ll have enough veg to go with the meat.

It’s like eating a Muller Fruit Corner and running out of puree before the yoghurt is used up :)

Hmm, I’m hungry.

Jg wrote on January 4th, 2007 at 11:49 AM PST:

I’m a french, but i’m one of the kind who can’t eat anything without having a cloud of pepper on my plate. Or some kind of mustard. Or some kind of Harissa.
When i’m eating a pizza i must sprinkle it with an home made oil that will burn your mouth in three seconds. I drink a full glass of water to tone down the feeling a bit when it’s too much.

I’m a french but i’m completely atypical in my country. If it doesn’t burn my tongue i can’t eat it.

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