Back when I was a lad, there were some rules at the dinner table.
Nobody starts eating until everyone is ready. No elbows on the table, no talking with your mouth full, etc.
And, and this is really important, no one has finished until everyone has finished. You sit there with your empty plate until all the plates can be cleared at the same time.
There was a simple reason for this, which is that by clearing your own plate away you’re pressuring other people to finish up quickly. Instead of relaxing and chatting, you’re spoiling their enjoyment of their food. It’s rude.
In restaurants the rules were the same. The staff would wait until everyone had finished before takling away anyone’s plates. It’s not lazy, it’s considerate. A server could get seriously reprimanded for harassing a customer by taking away one person’s plate while another at the same table was still eating.
I was always uncomfortable eating out in the USA. It seemed like you couldn’t put your fork down for a moment without some hovering waiter trying to snatch your plate out from under your nose. There were occasions where I actually had to say something like “Oi! I haven’t finished eating that.” I can be a slow eater too, and would often feel quite harassed by the fact that I wa fighting for possession of my food while my friends were checking out the dessert menu that had been thrust into their hands.
Food should be a liesurely sociable activity, not a bloody competition.
Sadly, it seems that Taiwan has adopted the ‘snatch it’ approach rather than the ‘savout it’ approach.
What do others think?