Sunday, November 20, 2011

Can I just have a taste?

Seemingly innocuous words, but ones which I dread.  Not that I have a problem with sharing food.  It is the mode of sharing of those who tend to make such requests that I have a problem with.  Rather than carefully removing some food with a clean utensil to their plate, or pouring some of the drink into another vessel, they are almost certainly going to dive into the middle of your dish (to 'get a taste of everything) with their already used saliva-covered (and frequently partially food-covered) fork or spoon, or to drink directly from the straw or cup.

Sometimes they don't even wait for an answer, or for that matter, even ask!  Once a workmate saw my freshly purchased smoothie, said 'I wonder how that tastes', grabbed it and drank from it before I could react.  I had not even had a single sip at the time, but my immediate reaction was 'well, you can have it now'.  I was not at all impressed, as the drink had cost $6, plus a fair walk down the street, which had been quite an effort in 38 degree heat, pregnant and with joint problems which made walking painful.

I am very happy to share, and think that each buying a different dish and then transferring some to each others plate before eating is commenced is a great idea. But, for me, someone partaking directly from my cup or plate renders the drink or food inedible.  I understand that some people have absolutely no problem drinking or eating directly from the same dish as others, but I am not one of those.   I respect their right to share amongst themselves as they see fit, appreciate the generosity of their offers, and do not offer any negative comment on the practice.

Interestingly, though, I have found that those that 'just want a taste' so rarely display the same courtesy.  They will request again - 'come on, just a taste', 'I don't have any bugs, you know'.  Pull faces of disapproval and disappointment.  Comment to others if around 'oh, I'm so easygoing, I have no problems sharing' (although, in my opinion, someone can hardly be considered easygoing if they cannot accept easily a 'no' in response to their request).

Recently I travelled with one of these people for a week. The first day of our trip I spotted a place selling green tea and sweet bean desserts.  This is something that is very difficult to find in Perth, so I was really looking forward to dining there.  I made my selection, and my travel companion (let's call him GG, or Grumpy Guts) made his.  Shortly after the desserts arrived, GG indicated, waving his already used spoon at my dish, that he wished to share.  I told him that I don't like to eat directly from the same dish, and suggested that I use my clean fork to place a portion on his plate.  This would achieve his aim of variety/tasting another dish, so would surely be satisfactory...

Apparently not.  GG sighed heavily and said 'don't worry then'.  A minute later, starting up the topic again, with 'I just don't understand what your problem is'.  My reply that I simply don't like to do this, consider it a little gross to mix my food with another's saliva, was just not adequate.  Clearly I had a big problem, I should learn to share, and he was suffering greatly from my views.  I gave in and let him eat from my dish. He ate happily, and the fact that I was no longer enjoying eating apparently did not diminish GG's enjoyment one little bit.  He did note that I left a lot of my (very small, about 1/4 the size of his) dessert, as I avoided eating any of the food his spoon had made contact with.  My stated aversion, together with the fact that I could not enjoy much of the dish, would surely be enough that in future he would leave my food alone, right?

But no.  Starbucks the next day, food hall noodles, bubble tea, anything I chose, GG wanted a taste of.  Each time he asked, each time I said I would rather not, each time he would sign, pull the face, shake his head and say he just didn't understand, he just wanted to try it. Would provide examples of his own sharing, or potential sharing ('if my mother didn't have a bottle of water but I did and she was thirsty, I would offer her some').  Very clearly affronted by my great selfishness in not wanting to share (and not even not wanting to share! but rather in not wanting to share by his method!)

On the last day of the holiday when confronted by the guilt trip yet again, I asked GG why he kept on asking when he knew that I didnt like to share, and told him that he was ruining the food/drink for me.  He insisted that he just kept on forgetting, but his reaction, his arrogance in thinking that I should be like him in this (any other) respects, the tone when he said each time 'oh, that's right' (not, 'sorry, I forgot' which would've been more appropriate,although of course hardly convincing after so many times), frowned and shook his head indicated otherwise.  That it was a deliberate effort to bring me around, if not to his way of thinking, at least to complying with his wishes.

I really am not sure what the problem is.  We all have different ideas, preferences, aversions, and the important thing is that we respect those of others, surely.  And I do believe that I have the right to decide what to do with my food/possessions/time, at least to a greater extent than a friend does. Or am I just an unreasonable, saliva-phobic fussy destroyer of fun?


  1. I agree, even I dont like sharing that way.same spoon and all, its very unhygienic and repulsive to me.

  2. I am the other kind.. the oh can I taste from your food kinds and my mum is just like you! But with me, the thing is, that if you even give me a portion out of your plate into mine I am as happy.
    So don't bother, you don't like ppl touching your food, and it is perfectly fine :)

  3. kathy :) :) where were you all this while ?? how are my lil beasties doing ?? i searched on fb i searched on the blogger :( dint see you..i am so so sooo glad to have you back..i missed youa round silly girl :)

    1. pls write..i miss you and i said this three years back !!!

    2. I'm waiting for something to talk about...but will endeavour even if I just write about something super boring, just because you asked :)

  4. where have you gone? everything Ok?