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The Big Question: Thirty-two times? | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Big Question: Thirty-two times?

Happy Monday my little cassoulets, how’s every little thing?

Me? I’m peachy. Got some new tango shoes, went to church, went to the gay bar after church (doesn’t everyone?) to watch Obama’s Bin Laden speech, the import of which was only slightly marred by having an extremely…floppy….male stripper who had Seen Better Days give some guy in front of me a neck massage which was, uh, less than inspiring. I mean let freedom ring and everything but let’s try to keep the stripper grease out of my mimosa.

If you haven’t read Twistie’s post from yesterday, do it.

Now full disclosure time: I’m biased. I’m a slow eater. That whole chew thirty-two times thing? I’m like fifty, on a good day, and that’s IF I don’t get distracted by a bit of shiny glass or a piece of string, which I always do because –and I feel I can reveal this to you now– I’m pretty much a brain-damaged magpie with surprisingly facile typing skills.

I know that makes everyone hate me and I’m no fun at dinner parties and blah blah are-you-gonna-finish-that blah, so my admonition to take your time and savor what you eat is partially good advice and partially so I can finish my damn shrimp cocktail before everyone’s moved on to dessert.

My grandfather used to tell a story about how he watched Orson Welles eating lunch alone at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore one day. He –Welles, not my grandfather– ordered an enormous meal and ate it all by his lonesome, not speaking to anyone.

I remember the slight note of scandal in my grandfather’s voice when he would tell the story. When it came to food, my grandfather was a bolter. He loved his food, but I don’t think I ever saw him savor a single mouthful. Dinner was on the table at 6:00 p.m. and he was firmly ensconced in the living room with a bowl of ice cream and/or a cigar by 6:30 for the Nightly Business Report.

Most of us are bolters now, I think, and I wonder if big girls aren’t more prone to it because –at least in public– the act of Eating While Fat is somehow shameful, embarrassing and best to be done quickly.

It’s just an idea, but I’d be interested to hear what you think. Do you bolt your food? If so, why? What about eating in public?

28 Responses to “The Big Question: Thirty-two times?”

  1. dr nic May 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    It depends on where I’m eating. If I’m at work, generally I’m inhaling my food, often because I only have about five minutes to eat. And the food I’m eating, while tasty, is generally designed to maximize nutrition and minimize the time it takes to eat.

    If I’m out with my husband or friends, I do take longer to eat, generally because I truly enjoy the food I’m eating. Because really, what’s the point in eating if you don’t take the time to really taste the food.

  2. harri p. May 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    I’m a bolter. I’m trying to slow down, but I just don’t think food is more interesting eaten slowly. Eating is kind of boring compared to doing other things. Also I tend to eat on the run because I’m busy. I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of my eating style.

  3. Julia LaBua May 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    It seems like I am often finished, if not first, then certainly not last when I eat out in public. But it’s not so much the speed at which I eat as it is that I feel so self-conscious eating in public that I consciously order less food than I would if I were eating alone.

  4. Madame Suggia May 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    If I’m busy and/or on a deadline, then yes, I eat quickly…I have stuff to do!
    If I’m super-hungry (usually because, I’m busy and yes, trying to meet deadlines, therefore often miss ‘regular’ mealtimes) then I will inhale food.
    If I’m having a nice relaxing or special occasion meal with friends, family or just me & M. Suggia, then I’ll take my time.
    If the food is super-delicious, I’m torn between inhaling (to get that yumminess inside asap!) and savoring every mouthful.

    But I really couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of the amount I do or don’t eat, the kind of food I choose to eat or avoid, or the speed at which I do or don’t eat it.

    I have old-school Brit-girl table manners, so, I know how to handle my silverware, which glass to use, obviously chew with mouth closed, it’s “please & thank you” all the way and I’d be surprised if anyone has any issues with my behavior at table. And if they do, I’d (politely!) tell them to sod off.

  5. Miss B May 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    In an effort to deal with my own personal issues with food, I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy it. This was SUCH a revelation to me! Here I was, not even tasting my food! GAH! I love my food so much more now that I savor it.

    I eat alone a lot in public – as someone who lives on their own, I don’t always have a dinner date or someone with me when it’s time to have a meal. I wish I could say I’ve never really given a rats ass about what others might think about what I’m eating or how I’m eating it but sometimes I do. It’s become such a common thing though, that mostly I’m more concerned that I won’t be ignored or hurried through the meal by my waiter/waitress. (They always seem to be in SUCH a hurry to turn the table that one can barely finish the salad before the main course is on the table!)

  6. Leigh Ann May 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    I’m a bolter, but make an effort not to be. Eating more slowly IS better. It’s more mindful, I enjoy my food more, and I think it’s better manners. But I have a job where I eat at my desk in between waiting on customers and dealing with he day to day urgent things/employee crises/other problems that can occur. I think I’ve gotten in the habit of just gulping it down. I don’t mind eating alone in restaurants, nor has it ever occurred to me that people are watching what I eat or don’t eat, so I don’t think my haste is related to that.

  7. Violet May 2, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    I couldn’t care less about mindfulness, and I am perfectly capable of eating with acceptable manners at the speed of light, BUT given my druthers and time I far prefer to eat slowly. I get a certain tranquilizing comfort from the act of eating. It’s nice. It’s a pleasant thing to be doing. I like it. I don’t particularly want it to be over. I’m more likely to draw it out for as long as I can taking tiny bites. I’m never bored or impatient over my meals, because either I’m talking to someone, or I’m on my own and reading something — it’s not like I’m going to sit all by myself at an otherwise empty dining table with a plate of food and nothing else to do. My job generally allows for eating comfortably at my desk over an internet break or, at worst, some literature I needed to go through anyway.

    Exceptions: 1. Lunch meetings. I want it gone so I can get it out from in front of me, plus it’s probably not very nice anyhow. 2. Cold cereal, which gets gross and soggy if you let it sit there for fifteen minutes while you finish your Atlantic article, and similar best-eaten-immediately items.

  8. Klee May 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    I’m a slow eater, from my years living in Europe. When I eat out, I tell the server I will deduct a dollar from the tip for each time they ask “are you still working on that?”.

  9. raincoaster May 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    I’m generally a bolter, because when I was young and impressionable I worked as a nanny to a family where the parents’ manners were actually literally revolting. I had to leave the table a couple of times due to nausea. I still remember the 4-year-old asking why he had to use his spoon for stew when his daddy (pointing at him at the other end of the table)just scooped with his fingers.

  10. Whitney May 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Basic training made me a bolter, and it’s amazing how long eight weeks of “shovelling” can take to shake off. I’m unfortunately in agreement with a lot of the ladies above in that my limited lunch time gives me time to either eat or accomplish other tasks – not both – so bolting it is. Dinner, however, and weekends, are “low and slow”, even in public.

    Regarding the eating alone in public issue that has come up, I did it quite often when I was single; otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go to 2/3 of the places I tried. I will freely admit, however, that I was always painfully aware of each observed bite taken and the movements of my mouth and jaw as I chewed.

  11. Fata Morgana May 3, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    I’m the slowest eater I know. I always seem to be the last one finished if I’m in a group.

  12. Liadan May 3, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Most of us are bolters because our days are structured with food as an afterthought. Drive through, eat at your desk, smoothie while you’re commuting…very few meals are MEALS these days.

    It’s a pattern we learn in the 20 minute “lunch hour” at school and it’s reinforced with brown-bag meetings and catered presentations at work. Heaven help the person who actually wants to relax over a meal within sight of their coworkers. There’s a shame factor there but it has nothing to do with the size of the diner.

  13. Violet May 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Yeah, it helps that I have an office door.

  14. Jezebella May 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Klee, that’s genius. I get asked that ALL THE TIME: “are you still working on that?” My answer: “Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know, maybe I’ll eat some more, maybe I won’t. [what I wish I could say: Get your paws off my grub, waitperson].” I probably won’t have the nerve to follow through, but it is an irritating question. Although I sometimes feel defensive when I eat something larger than a handful of sprouts in public, especially if it’s dessert, I do it anyway.

    When I was consciously learning to listen to my body tell me whether I was hungry or full, I spent a lot of time meditating on half-empty plates, trying to figure it out. Until a few years ago I just couldn’t tell the answer to that question. I still do that sometimes. I’m pretty sure the restaurant has some more plates and will not go out of business if I keep mine for more than ten minutes.

  15. aa May 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    I can’t believe any waiter would DARE to ask “are you still working on that”? Here in Spain, they ask if you are enjoying your food, and whether you would like anything else.

  16. marvel May 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    I’m a very slow eater. And there’s nothing I can do to speed up. I work with many people who eat very quickly, and honestly I would feel violently ill if I cleaned my plate as fast as they do. Which means I often don’t finish things when out to eat with a group — but hey, leftovers!!

  17. Madame Suggia May 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    @Liadan May 3, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    “Most of us are bolters because our days are structured with food as an afterthought. Drive through, eat at your desk, smoothie while you’re commuting…very few meals are MEALS these days.

    It’s a pattern we learn in the 20 minute “lunch hour” at school and it’s reinforced with brown-bag meetings and catered presentations at work. Heaven help the person who actually wants to relax over a meal within sight of their coworkers. There’s a shame factor there but it has nothing to do with the size of the diner.”

    You are totally correct, and to be quite honest, as someone who has worked from a home office for a long long time, I hadn’t even considered this. I do remember, when I did work outside my home, having a scant 30 minutes for lunch (45 minutes on a Friday, woo hoo!) and two breaks of exactly 15 minutes mid morning & afternoon. And yes, when you have to fetch/heat/prepare your lunch, eat it, digest and try to get a few minutes of blessed down-time…30 minutes really isn’t very long. Doubly so, taking a longer break would have been severely frowned upon.

    So yes, I guess not so much fat-shaming, as perceived-slacker-shaming.

  18. Jeanine May 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    I am always the last to finish, but I wonder if that’s because I can’t talk and eat the same time….and since I am an office of one….I’d much rather talk to my lunch dates than actually…eat!

  19. Linda Sumner May 4, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    I eat at a reasonbly slow pace. Since I live alone, I often read while eating. I do eat out alone and generally pay no attention to what someone else might think, but I used to enjoy a local cafe along the waterfront. There’s a walking path between the restaurant tables and the water. I was having lunch there one day when the weather was bad enough for the plastic screens to be down. A pair of runners jogged by and I could hear part of their comments as one said “fat lady eating lunch”, not knowing–or caring–that there wasn’t a glass wall between us.

    I was so angry I actually waited on the path to confront them on their way back but they never returned, possibly saving me an assault charge. Still, the cafe is somewhat spoiled for me.

  20. Jezebella May 4, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    @Linda: Because Maude forbid a fat lady EAT in PUBLIC. Or ever, come to think of it. I hate that attitude SO MUCH. Look at you, being fat at them! Feh. Buttheads. I would’ve done the same thing.

  21. wildflower May 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    “and that’s IF I don’t get distracted by a bit of shiny glass or a piece of string, which I always do because –and I feel I can reveal this to you now– I’m pretty much a brain-damaged magpie with surprisingly facile typing skills.”

    You. Are. Hysterical. :)

  22. Jennifer May 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    My brother has this theory that he can tell a lot about a person by their eating habits (he has issues with other peoples’ table manners in general, but that is besides the point). When he told me this, I asked him “Oh? What do my eating habits tell you?” and he said “You’re in a hurry”. Which is true, but ever since then I’ve tried to pay attention and eat more slowly (and walk more slowly, and speak more slowly, etc).

  23. HeidiAphrodite May 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Your description of yourself as a brain-damaged magpie made me snort, because I often fear the same thing. Anyway, I used to get made fun of (I still get it from my family) for being a slow eater. Half the time the conversation is interesting and I’m participating, and the other half of the time my mouth isn’t very big and I have a bit of a cross-bite and sometimes chewing takes a while.

    As for the eating-in-public thing, sometimes I have issues with that, which seems unusual because the only other people I know with that problem were Big Girls (I am not). My public food issues come from a major depressive episode where I didn’t eat and it would tick me off when people tried to make me eat, so I always said I wasn’t hungry and avoided eating while people watched. Healthy, wasn’t I? Yeah.

  24. HeidiAphrodite May 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Also, I HATE the “oh no a fat person is eating oh no oh no” attitude. HATE IT. My best friend for a long time was a Big Girl and I remember her being so upset by eating in public that she’d cry. It was awful. Look, people eat. Sometimes they’re not skinny. Deal with it. I want to punch the rude people sometimes, but what would that make me? It would probably make me right, I think.

  25. barbara May 5, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    I’m more savor-er than a bolter (except at work, when I’m lucky to sneak a 30-minute break in my day) but as a single person I eat out by myself regularly. I don’t mind. I often have days off in the middle of the week, and most places don’t mind if you linger with a good book if they don’t have a long line for the table.

    But the good book is key.

  26. the class factotum May 6, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I am closer to bolter than take foreverer. My husband takes forevvvvvver. It drives me nuts. I hate going out to eat because it is so damn boring to sit at a table while someone else is eating. I eat. I’m done. Let’s move on. And I say that as someone who loves food. I love food but I hate waiting for other people to eat.

  27. Lilli Munster May 6, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    I never rush through a meal and refuse to work on my break or lunch hour. My work is always finished, up to date or ahead of schedule. When possible, I leave the office for a short time when finished eating and encourage my staff to do the same. This goes a long way towards preventing “burn out”.

  28. harri p. May 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Here’s the problem with chewing 32 times: food stops tasting like anything around about chew 20. Bleah. Bolting forever!