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Mmmm… Rice!

By | July 18, 2010

At dinner, we eat family style at a round table with a big lazy susan tray in the center. We never order at our hotel’s restaurant, they just start bringing the dishes they are serving that night, usually around ten different ones. They are getting to know us and bringing more vegetables and less meat. We haven’t seen pig knuckles since the second night we were here! For some reason we do not yet understand, rice is usually served at the end of our dinner, after we have finished our vegetable or meat dishes. And often, something sweet and dessert-like will come somewhere in the middle. Last Thursday, they brought out delicious fried dough to dip in sweetened condensed milk, then another vegetable dish, and some rice a bit later. We amused ourselves greatly by joking, “Eat all your donuts, little Chinese children, or there’ll be no rice for you!” or “Finish your dessert, or you’ll go to bed without any rice!”

I’m not actually sure why they still bring us any rice at all. But it wouldn’t be so funny if they stopped.


Nicole Hickman on July 20, 2010 at 9:33 am.

Interesting, and this looks to be an explanation of why the rice doesn’t come until the end:

What is Served, or Beyond the Grain
In a dramatic reversal of everyday habit, banquets consist solely of special dishes. The meat and vegetables that serve as side dishes at regular meals become the focus, and fan, or grain, which is normally so important that every last grain must be consumed, is relegated to the very end of the meal and guests need only to pick at the fan, indicating their supreme satisfaction. To eat one’s rice at a banquet might hint that the host failed to provide enough food.

From this link:


admin on July 20, 2010 at 10:01 pm.

Thanks so much, Nicole! This idea of a show of plenty makes more sense than certainly anything else we’ve heard so far. We eat our meals everyday at the hotel restaurant, which is paid for by our program. So maybe when most people eat there, it’s more of a special occasion. For us, it gets a little old to be eating out every day.


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