Random Observation/Comment #228: Especially for a Chinese family, the full holiday experience spans from the preparation to the dish washing, with all the fun eating and drinking in between. It’s a huge potluck of food from different cuisines filled with those little quirks from every side of the family. The uncles all join in loud laughter with inappropriate Cantonese jokes, while the aunties all talk about cooking and shopping. The little kids pretty much sit in silence and stuff their face with food and wait to play mah-jong.
I’m, obviously, known for my mashed potatoes obsession. It is well known that if there are any leftover mashed potatoes, I will be the one to lick the bowl. Similar to how Garfield is famous for never having a dish of lasagna uneaten: I am referred to as the Clemens of mashed potatoes. Luckily, no one really competes during dinner, due to this well-known fact, and we’re all happy trying to finish the abundance of food in a nice equilibrium of food sharing.
There is, however, the introduction of the Guest. He or she, indiscriminate of age or race, becomes a threat to my mashed potatoes supply. Of course, they don’t know and the one that has brought this Guest did not fully inform him/her of the situation. As the Guest enters the room, I observe those eye movements that scan the table to plan their course of attack. I imagine myself behind those eyes and extrapolate the angles. If there is ever a double-take or prolonged viewing of those mashed potatoes, it’s on – you damn right, it’s on.
When I was younger, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I had the figure of a mashed potato eating champion. Everyone saw me drooling and staring as we waited for everyone to be served their plate. I made it my mission to let it be known at the table that I wanted to inhale my plate and get seconds and thirds of those heavenly fluffs of ecstasy.
However, I’ve grown older and less shape-y, which leads people to think that I’m on a lower starch diet – Oh, they are so wrong. I am just as much the Clemens Mashed Potato eating beast I was back then, if not, even more so after years of training. I wait between holidays dreaming of the night I would enjoy the moments seeing that gravy volcano explode.
Needless to say, the Guest leads to a battle. I am too old to use those lower level tactics. I somehow must be polite and courteous to others, and offer the last of each bite to those that look too full to handle it. It was so much easier in the old days when I could pull something off like: serving a large plate of mashed potatoes from the pot and then taking the pot while leaving the plate behind for others. Or, I could have pulled off the blatant “shoving the cousin out of the way to get more mashed potatoes” technique. I would probably be the mashed potato bully; taking a large mouthful and screaming with my XL salmon-colored t-shirt with the fresh gravy stain and little belly sticking out. Those were some good times.
Yet those techniques would never work. Instead, I think all those obsessed with a certain dish tend to use this technique: serve the food. Estimate the limit of proportions from every favorite and try to fill their stomachs with the stuff you don’t particularly want mixing with the mashed potatoes.
“Hey, little guy. You want some mashed potatoes? You don’t want to fill up so much because there’s ice cream for dessert.” Win.
~See Lemons Wish Everyone a Happy Holiday