Finish Your Food

When I was younger, maybe about 4-5 years old, my superstitious grandmother had a hard time trying to get me to finish my food. She’d use all sorts of excuses trying to convince me to swallow every single leftover dish there is on the table.
Grandma: “Quick, finish your food. Don’t you know? Having leftover rice on your plate means next time your wife’s face will have lots of pimples.”
Kenny: “Really?”
Grandma: “Ya. If you leave one grain of rice, she’ll have one pimple. If you leave three grains of rice, she’ll have three pimples.”
Kenny: “Then if I don’t finish the whole plate of rice, her head would become like brocolli is it?”

Come to think of it, I’ve encountered a lot of these dinner-time Chinese superstitions.

– Do not leave the dinner table and wander around doing other things, else you’ll grow up to have a bad attention span.
– Do not stab chopsticks on your bowl of rice as if they’re joss sticks.
– Do not kneel whilst having dinner. I see kids sometimes doing this when they’re eating on the coffee table in front of the TV. To their elders, it means their kids are worshipping the TV, which unfortunately is quite true.
– Do not tap your plate deliberately with your utensils.
– Do not shake your legs while having dinner. It means all your good fortune will be shaken away.

I’m guilty of the last one. I’m born with legs are shaky like a polaroid picture. It’s very bad habit I’m still trying to shake off (no pun intended).
Anyway, I reckon I have pretty good fortune so that superstition must obviously be false. I never believe those superstitious bullshit. If my grandmother were to tell me that shaking your legs would make your legs go hairy, maybe I’d actually listen to her.

My mother is not as superstitious. She has her own way trying to get me to finish my food – by making me feel guilty.
“Finish your food, Kenny. Think of all the malnutritioned children in Bosnia / Nigeria / Ethiopia / [insert name of random poor African nation] who are starving right now if you don’t eat.”
It works everytime. My stomach may be exploding, but I’d still be forcing that last piece of chicken down my throat because dammit, I’m privileged to swallow that piece of chicken, OKAY?!
That probably explains why I’m such a chubby little boy today.
Its only when I grow older that I noticed what a flawed argument my mother had.
Look. Whether I eat that last piece of chicken or let it go to waste, what the hell does it have ANYTHING to do with starving kids in Africa? Why do they even come into the equation? Even if I don’t finish my food, its not like KFC is gonna ship that piece of unfinished chicken all the way to Africa, right?
If you’re already full, stop eating. Why suffer? Don’t feel too guilty about letting half-eaten food go to waste, because anything you swallow after the point of satiation is likely to be stored as fat anyway. (This principle does not apply to anorexic and underweight people btw.)
Which one would make you feel more guilty? Half-eaten food going to waste because you’re full, or an extra inch on your waist because you’re eating more calories than you need? Go to waste, or go to waist?

You think this is a normal RC car. You are so wrong.

If I really want to help those kids, I’d contribute to charity. Join, donate to DoctorsWithoutBorders or something, which I did, and you should.
Why the heck should I let those malnutritioned kids come between me, my chicken, and my path to weight loss?

Its a malnutritioned car!

My mother’s strategy certainly worked on me. Instead of letting good food go the bin, I gorged. Even as my waistline expanded, I gluttonized myself as I ate whatever leftover food there is on the table because dammit… THOSE KIDS IN AFRICA ARE SUFFERING!
Absurdity to the max plus one, I tell you.
There you go. Another myth adults tell children debunked, thanks very much to πŸ™‚

58 Replies to “Finish Your Food”

  1. what an incriminating entry. instead of sex scandals, you decide to post an entry on food knowing that white collar slaves like me are starving here in our 3rd world companies. damn you kenny sia! damn you and your pictures to gourmet hell!!

  2. My mother tried using the same line her parents used on her, on me when I was a child (I was notorious for leaving food unfinished).
    “The chickens will cry/die if you don’t finish your rice”
    Considering she used to live in a kampung and by the time I was born we were already living in an apartment… you can guess why that line was never effective on me.

  3. Okay…I use to tell my mom “then u tar pau go africa lor..” very bad indeed. but then come to think of it, it helps in the long run as you learn conditionally how not to waste food. if you really can’t finish that last piece of chicken, then next time don’t take so many piece gettit! instead of take one barrel, buy 15 enuf lor!!!

  4. LOLz. I actually thought of that long time ago. Ya, even if we dun finish our food, the food goes down the bin anyway.
    So, the true moral of the story is — Dun order too much food if u cant finish! Then nothing is “wasted”. πŸ™‚

  5. Muahahahaha… luv the brocolli pic.. anyway.. on ur previous blog, u say that, the percentage of ppl hate you get higher when u take picture with certain girls.. so, how many percentage when u take with vegetable… hahahaha.. kidding… cheer dude.. keep up the good work

  6. Aiyoh. Same leh. I got the same frigging problem with wanting to finish up all the food.
    1. I feel guilty because the food is going to go to my waist.
    2. I feel guilty because every bit of rice and veggie is painstakingly planted and cared for by the farmer, etc etc etc. And I just throw it away just like that. Waste you know?

  7. My attention span is short enough as it is without the “no wandering during the meal” taboo.
    Have you read the book (DO NOT SIT ON THIS BOOK – A collection of Chinese taboos)? It’s quite interesting; however, I don’t remember reading that one.

  8. “Do not stab chopsticks on your bowl of rice as if they’re joss sticks.”
    Hey i always got this one from my aunt. She’d CONSTANTLY say it with the explanation that the spirits will mistake it for their food that you’re offering. And that if i kept on doing that, i might see an old man leaning over my food eating it when i turn around.
    Of course la scared to leave chopsticks standing in bowl after that!
    Now it’s just a habit from childhood that i don’t do it. Plus so many other beliefs that will make adam think i’m being a silly goose.

  9. well from what u r saying, i guess that most asians have almost the same superstitions… my gramma was also very superstitious n used to impose her belieffs on us…though some of it made sense n some were just unbelievable.
    Do not leave the dinner table and wander around doing other things, else the ghost will sit at ur place and finish ur meal… i must say that woman had some massive imagination πŸ˜›
    Do not tap your plates (or any pots) deliberately with your utensils… well for this she had an explanation which made some sense… the sound of the utensils scraping the pot is like an indication that there isnt much food left and the mother wouldnt eat so that the children and the husband would have enuf to eat… well this could have been in olden days as most families werent so well to do and followed the malay saying “kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang”. And mothers being very caring and thoughtful by nature, they would give up their food so that her children would have enuf. But nowadays if there isnt enuf food we’d just eat out or cook more so that everyone would have enuf.
    And about wasting food…same case with most ppl…where got any mothers encouraging young ones to waste food πŸ˜› My mom used to threaten me that she was gonna call the old beggar in my neighbourhood, knowing that i was scared of him. But i figured my own way of getting away with all the vege that i didnt like… by finishing up my water in the brown nestum mig and putting all the long beans in it…my mom only checks my plate n not the mug…this worked for me…until one fine day i forgot to clean my mug πŸ˜€ then my mom would only give me water in a clear glass πŸ˜›

  10. Hmmph… My grandparents always chided us and says only coolies or labor workers kneel whilst having dinner.

  11. Hahahaha – head like brocolli. It’s a good thing that your grandmother didn’t smack you upside the head for that πŸ˜€

  12. If you waste like 109483908 grains of rice, your wife will have pimples on every spot of her face. Then she will have really smooth skin leh…since all of her pimples will merge and surface out nicely. Then won’t be like brocolli anymore. Maybe her swollen face will look more like a tomato.

  13. aih. and to think all that good food go to waist. lolz. seriously, if they’re starving in africa, have them come here instead! lolz. superstitions are funny.

  14. Well there’s one superstition which I still believe in: “do not run around the dining table during dinner or you will cheeks will turn red” (yeah after mother slaps you for nearly making her trip while carrying a hot bowl of soup).

  15. The most common threat is “finish your food or you will not grow up!!!” I used to waste food when I was small, then why on earth am I taller than most females now? But if that growing up meant mentally, then I guess that threat was right. πŸ˜›

  16. Ken: Your Mum is NOT the only one with a flawed reason saying you must finish thy food for the sake of others suffering of malnutrition in Afirca.
    I was in a generous mood when a “socialist” minnded unionist(just an acquiatance at that stage) passed me by when I was waiting for my mee greng. I tried to be hospitable, invited him to join me for a drink, and if he liked, I could still treat him to a plate of mee goreng.
    He sat down next to me, “lectured” me about my bourgeosie tastes and wasting … just like your Mum-lah, implying how could I indulge myself when there were thousands then mundernourised in Ethipia!
    Bast… he did not even thank me for my offers of drink and mee, instead levelled at me withhis cocialist crap. Yes, flawed thinking. My ordering two mee goreng and 2 more iced milo did not affect the suffering thousands then in Africa in any way — for worse or better.
    Well, if people want to become “martyrs” fighting windmills, who am I to complain. I’d settle down to 2 plates of mee goreng ‘stead!

  17. Wahaha funny post.
    i think ‘PC card’ was a typo — shldn’t it be ‘RC car’ or something? nvm.
    I think the best way not to acquire an expanding waistline from guilt (-induced gorging) would be to have as much as you can finish on your plate.
    And to stay away from buffets. Even if it’s chocolate. Bah.

  18. Hahah I still remember when I was young my granny told me that first one about pimples on my future hubby. But then being teh little tomboy I was, I shoot her back saying, “who say I want to get married when I grow up?” HAhah but now I’m glad to say I’m married to a handsome man with minimal pimples and I didn’t finish my rice most of the time.

  19. heheh. i liked racing car rule no.4:
    “better play on the larger playground,not suitable playing indoor on a single family house”
    wtf??!! what has it got 2 do with the type of family?? damn cun lah this kind of advice..even worse than my mother’s dinner-time advice.

  20. i used to have tt thinking, carry on eating even though i was on the verge of explosion. cos mama said cannot waste food. now, i hack, if i carry on eating likett, i cant fit into the clothes in my wardrobe, and have to rebuy! isn’t tt much more expensive?

  21. haha, why you complain lah, thanks to your family you have grown up to be a handsome man πŸ™‚
    maybe you can use that with your kids – eat if you want to be a ladies man πŸ˜‰

  22. My mom used to tell me about the pimples one. But it was different. My mom said the one who would get the pimples would be me. And I would go ‘really?’. But I didn’t finish my food. Anyway, I didn’t get pimples. Hahaha. So it’s all crap.

  23. Ermm…. I got friends who so enjoyed racing their RC cars, they forgot about mealtimes. Maybe that counts towards malnutrition…. Were the warnings (unintentionally) correct after all?

  24. my mom also tells me the exact same thing abt how african kids have nth to eat, to make me finish my food. hehe. Whereas my granny would say if u can’t finish, dun force yaself or u will get sick/tummyache. i prefer to listen to my granny :P:P

  25. my african frens told me that they used to get told by their moms “finish ur food! think of the hungry kids in CHINA!!”
    true story.

  26. It sure is annoying, but why in the first place take more than what you can eat? Its just to let be thankful for the food that you have, and that you are not on the verge of starvation like the people in countries suffering from famine. Have a heart.

  27. Funny. When my parents told me ‘Think of the people in Africa or some god-forsaken country, I think it would be worst to eat it because while they’re starving, you’re expanding your waistline. Hey, think about that!

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