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Old 2010-08-18, 03:21   Link #1
Samari
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Family style/individual eating in restaurants?

I was curious about something and wanted the consensus opinion of the message board about it. It has to do with the customs of eating food within large groups (family or friends), and what you people prefer. Perhaps this is all subjective due to people growing up in different cultures and having different experiences, but it would still be nice to have some insight.

Basically I'm wondering if it's in your tradition when your with your family and or friends and order food at a restaurant, to share a lot of the dishes you order so everyone has a chance to eat everything or are you used to everyone ordering their own dish? I guess to break it down and make it more simple...

Family-style dining

PROS: Everyone gets to share everything that is ordered.

CONS: You don't get to enjoy all of what you ordered, and you might not want to eat what someone else is offering, yet you are still expected to give up your own portions.

Individual-style dining

PROS: You get to eat the entire meal you order and it's all to yourself. Not sharing. It's yours.

CONS: You are only allowed to eat your own dish which makes ordering more crucial. If someone else has a more interesting dish, too bad.

Obviously this isn't set in stone. It depends on the type of restaurant (buffets negate this obviously) and the person. I'm a picky eater so unfortunately I'm used to individual style eating. And I wasn't really raised in a way to eat in a family-style manner when out at restaurants, so I'm not used to it (unless it's at home, which in my opinion is different). I don't mind doing the sharing thing though. I've done it a good amount and it seems to be paramount in Chinese cultures (I have a lot of Chinese friends) so I've been through it a lot. It's just not the first option I would be interested in.

What about you guys?
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Old 2010-08-18, 03:30   Link #2
GreatTeacherKen
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While I'm OK with both ways of eating, I favor family style for two reasons. First, I'm so accustomed to it that I don't even think about why I do it or question it. Second, I have a low appetite, and it's possible I may order a meal that's too much for me to eat which has happened before in restaurants I'm unfamiliar with and I try not to waste food; sharing meals makes it easier to avoid that.
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Old 2010-08-18, 05:07   Link #3
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samari View Post
I've done it a good amount and it seems to be paramount in Chinese cultures (I have a lot of Chinese friends) so I've been through it a lot.
You've partly answered your own question. I believe it's not just a Chinese custom, but also an East Asian tradition. A family that eats together stays together.

I very much prefer communal meals, where a family shares the food, served in dishes that everyone picks portions from. A Chinese dinner is not just a meal, but also a cultural institution — it's the one time in a day where family members get to catch up with each other. And, if you're doing business in China, you had better get used to talking shop during meals, over generous servings of fiery Maotai liquor. This is, quite simply, the way things are done over there. It's almost as good as an insult not to join in the feasting, let alone hope to strike deals.

That said, it has been a very long time since I've had my meals this way, because of various reasons, none of them by choice. So, nostalgia may be a factor here.
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Old 2010-08-18, 08:21   Link #4
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One thing I have learnt in my past 2 years is that it doesn't matter if you are eating alone or together with your family, as long as there is food and everybody is fed, it is a good meal.

Sharing or not, the most two important things, I believe in having a meal, are that

1. Don't waste food. Finish up the food on the table.
2. Plan what you are going to eat if it is dining outside. Don't choose everything that looks good on the menu - eat only as much as you can.

Having gone once for six straight days without time for a proper meal and on biscuits, dry food and water in mud and rain taught me what is it like to be really hungry and tired. Surviving through it even made me seriously doubt what "professional nutritionists" say.

Or maybe it is just me. Everytime my family gets together, anything that comes out of their mouths would be something absolute, absurd or irrational, or a rant, and being the youngest, I am supposed to listen to all that bullcrap without questioning motives or ideas. I would rather eat in front of the computer or a book.

The person who lauded the Chinese New Year reunion dinner as a time of happiness should have his/her head boiled in the steamboat and the flesh fed to the poor and hungry.
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Old 2010-08-18, 08:42   Link #5
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Meal sharing contributes to higher rates of contamination: The common cold, different types of hepatitis.

Having cutlery or chopsticks for each dish helps reduce the risk, but I found that they are easily forgotten.

I caught a cold twice because of those dinners.
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Old 2010-08-18, 09:50   Link #6
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Well, for my family, it depends:

We of course go family style when we go to a Chinese restaurant.

And individual style the rest of the time (we happen to share, but it's mostly two peoples agreeing to taste each other dish).
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Old 2010-08-18, 11:30   Link #7
ChainLegacy
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My family usually eats what they order, but if anyone is interested in another's dish we will definitely share. I do think there's something interesting about setting out a bunch of dishes for people to pick and choose from buffet style even if I don't do it too often. I think good food can bring people together, most definitely.
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Old 2010-08-18, 11:46   Link #8
Miko Miko
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I keep my food to myself. I am not big on sharing. Although if we have a chinese or something like that then we will share.
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Old 2010-08-18, 11:49   Link #9
synaesthetic
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Since I don't have a family, this is a non-issue for me. If I go out with friends, we typically order our own thing unless it's a certain type of food.

If we go out for pizza, obviously we split the appetizer and the pizza (but the salads are individual). And the beer is all mine bwahahahahaha! ... oh sorry.

Also, finger-foods like bar snacks, tapas or sushi, generally there's a lot of sharing/trading/tasting going on there.

Otherwise though we just get whatever and eat it.
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Old 2010-08-18, 11:56   Link #10
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I have an extreme dislike for being near people while eating (in a restaurant, or at home), so I typically try to avoid the situation all together.

But, given the few occasions where I've been in a restaurant with family members, I would say everybody tends to go for the more "individual" approach. I cannot recall a single time when anyone shared their food with anyone else at the table.

I can't help thinking that's a little unfortunate, really. As much as I dislike social eating situations, if you're the sort of person who does enjoy eating in a group, it seem as though it might be more fun to share your food with the other people there.
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Old 2010-08-18, 12:52   Link #11
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I'll just ignore all the nitpicky, in detail explanation and just say Individual-style Dining.

I want my food to be how I want it with no wasting it.
I want to be alone when I eat.
I don't care for human contact or social interactions in real time.

I'm not a social butterfly. I can be social... I suppose, I simply don't want to be simply because I'm mostly done trying to interact with people. So I don't care much for restaurants. I don't care sitting down at home eating with my family.

I want to make my own meal -- or order it -- as I want it without any wasting anything simply because "there was something I didn't want in there."

That is how I feel.
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Old 2010-08-18, 18:39   Link #12
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I don't mind eating pizza family style...I know how many pieces I payed for, and it's all the same anyway. I don't really care what the toppings are.
When we eat Chinese (we don't do that much these days though) I generally plan my order with my brother or friends so that I can get a taste of everything good...but everyone knows that my egg roll is my egg roll!
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Old 2010-08-18, 20:40   Link #13
Kusa-San
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It's really interesting to see that for some peoples here, family style dinning is something common. In France, it's not the case at all. When you eat something, it's most of the time in Individual-style dining (the only exception that I see is the Fondu Savoyarde).
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Old 2010-08-18, 22:43   Link #14
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I like eating alone so people dont know how little I eat
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Old 2010-08-18, 22:56   Link #15
Samari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitres View Post
I'll just ignore all the nitpicky, in detail explanation and just say Individual-style Dining.

I want my food to be how I want it with no wasting it.
I want to be alone when I eat.
I don't care for human contact or social interactions in real time.

I'm not a social butterfly. I can be social... I suppose, I simply don't want to be simply because I'm mostly done trying to interact with people. So I don't care much for restaurants. I don't care sitting down at home eating with my family.

I want to make my own meal -- or order it -- as I want it without any wasting anything simply because "there was something I didn't want in there."

That is how I feel.
I agree with this. I don't mind eating alone, and I never have.
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Old 2010-08-19, 01:07   Link #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kusa-San View Post
It's really interesting to see that for some peoples here, family style dinning is something common. In France, it's not the case at all. When you eat something, it's most of the time in Individual-style dining (the only exception that I see is the Fondu Savoyarde).
Pour être franc avec toi, c'est relativement nouveau. Les plats partagés étaient beaucoup plus courants en France avant l'avènement de la médecine moderne et de la découverte des bactéries. La Fondu Savoyarde est justement un de ces plats traditionnels qui a survécu ces réformes au niveau de l'hygiène.

Les couverts de service aident, c'est vrai, mais il suffit de très peu pour que ce soit insuffisant.
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Old 2010-08-19, 01:32   Link #17
Kudryavka
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When me and my family eat out, we all single-style, as in we all stick to our own dishes. We may ask for a taste of someone else's dish, but that's really rare. XD
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Old 2010-08-19, 10:41   Link #18
Langus
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Back home it was always individual style ordering and we always had leftovers.

However, in Japan we always do it family style.

There's never any left overs and it's great because when you get your bill you realize you just ate a table full of food and are only responsible for covering a fraction of the cost.

I love it! Plus when everyone divvies up the bill equally there's none of that annoying calculator bs with everyone trying to figure out exactly how much they owe.

One con is that if you don't drink or if you are a light eater you end up paying more than your share, but that's something to consider before going out I suppose.
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Old 2010-08-19, 11:07   Link #19
DragoZERO
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Family style isn't exclusive to any one cuisine in America. It's more dependent on the restaurant and all. I like family style since you get to try more than one thing, especially dessert, heh.
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Old 2010-08-19, 11:33   Link #20
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The one nice thing about eating socially?

You eat slower, because you're busy chatting it up.

So you eat less.

When you're alone? You eat faster, you end up eating more before feeling full. So it's likely a lot better for your gut to eat socially more often!
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