Back home in every Chinese food restaurant there is a lazy susan. You know what I’m talking about; The big round glass thing on the center of the table so when there are a lot of dishes everyone can spin it around to get to each dish.
Well, here in China every restaurant has a lazy susan too. It just makes sense. The plates you get in restaurants to eat off here are very tiny, like saucer plates, and sometimes you don’t even get a plate, just a small bowl of rice to put a few pieces of food on. So while there might be 12 different dishes on the table, you can only take a small amount of food before your plate or bowl is full. Hence the need for a lazy susan.
But have you ever used a lazy susan before? When you are with your family, or friends, it’s quite fun. You spin it around, you try to spin it one way, your friend tries to spin it the other. But have you ever used it at an actual banquet where the table is full and you don’t know the people? Well, until this weekend I never had. And until this weekend I thought lazy susans were fun. Now I realize they suck.
There are two main problems as I see them: tiny bites and manners.
As I explained the plates are very small (you aren’t suppose to actually use the plate as a storage area like we do back home. Rather it acts as a resting point for your chopstick that is full of food and a trash receptacle for bones and other inedible parts.)
So you can’t fill your plate like you would at a buffet table. Instead you reach out to the common plates and bowls of food, grab some, eat it, grab some more, chew, grab some more, eat it. Take a breath, grab some more. Basically you are always reaching out for some food.
This is where the second problem comes in. Since there are a lot of people around the table (in my case nine) taking these tiny bites there is almost always someone eating from a dish. So you don’t want to be rude and spin it while they are reaching for food. (Especially if you don’t know the other people well.)
So you sit politely and wait for the rare break when no one is reaching for food. So as to not look eager you reach out and begin slowly turning the glass plate. Of course, that starts a new flurry of food grabbing activity and you have to stop it again and hope that the dish you wanted is in reach.
See how stressful it is! Of course you could sit there passively, let others control the lazy susan and just eat what ends up in front of you. But we all know I’m not one for being shy around food, especially when there are 15 delicious dishes on front of me to try.
And of course using a lazy susan all weekend brought up another question: Why the heck do we call it a lazy susan anyway?!
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