In China, eating rice is manly. It goes with smoking and drinking. Every time I turn down a cigarette with a “I don’t smoke,” people are disappointed. When I drink with them, they are very happy, nodding in approval. When I don’t eat much rice (like only one bowl), they demand I have another bowl. They don’t want to hear any of that “we don’t eat this much rice in the West, especially not at the very end of a meal” crap.
So I was happy once I got into my “rice zone.” I was capable of eating two to three (smallish) bowls of rice with every meal. Normal whiteys fresh off the boat cannot do this. It took me years to get to that point.
Lately, I’ve lost it. I’m not sure what it is. A few months ago, when Ayi gave me a heaping bowl of rice (and that’s a big bowl, not the restaurant size), I would eat it all in the course of my meal. Now, I take one look at that bowl and I’m sure I can’t finish it. When I put back half the bowl, she scowls in disapproval, the “a big tall guy like you should be eating more rice than that” written very clearly on her face.
Maybe I’m just ready for a visit home.