I have been told several times by different kinds of people that I am one hell of a fast eater. I agree. Let me say it again: I am a fast eater. My women friends urge me to keep pace with them so that we can all have dessert together and the men gawk none too politely as I return their stare with the look of a cat who just swallowed the canary. “Damn, you eat fast! And to think you’re a lady.” they’ll say. (Gads, don’t you just want to smack men who utter such chauvinistic remarks?)
Health buffs like to condemn people who eat fast, declaring that these types of eaters are more prone to eating more, thus gaining more weight. (For the record, I think people like this are unbelievably vain and know nothing about food.) I’ve been told repeatedly that when a person eats, the stomach needs twenty minutes to signal the brain that it’s full. And of course when the person’s a fast eater, he or she may have already left the table even before twenty minutes have passed!
Meantime, my best friend, B, is the exact opposite of me. He is the slowest eater I know. Can I say that again? He is the slowest eater I know. To wit, It takes him an hour to eat a regular cheese sandwich ”“ just bread, no trimmings. It takes him an hour and a half to consume a large Blizzard. Of course by that time, it isn’t a Blizzard anymore, it’s a drink.
There was this one time we arrived at a restaurant nearly two hours before closing time. I thought we had more than enough time to finish our meal. But then again, just when you think you know a person… Lo and behold, it took B almost two hours to wipe out the chicken toppings rice dish and dumplings he had ordered! The plate that my pancit canton had been served in was already washed and dried way before then. I was immensely embarrassed because the two remaining waiters who were closing up were practically falling off of their chairs from sleepiness, waiting for my slowpoke friend to finish the final morsels of his taro puff. I once irritatingly asked him, “B, why the hell do you eat so slow!” His nonchalant reply, “I can’t be rushed. And staring at me isn’t going to make me eat any faster.” Grrr. I love B to pieces, but I’d think twice before sitting down again to a meal with him.
Don’t misunderstand the situation: I’m a fast eater, yes, but I savor every mouthful, as much or even more than the next person. And contrary to what others would have you believe about fast eaters, I don’t polish off vast quantities of food. Yes, I have a healthy appetite, and I’m nothing like those annoying women who claim they’re full after eating just two pieces of sushi. No one can say that I’m fat either, I’m as normal as can be, speedy eating or not.
So, now you may be thinking, why do you eat so fast and exactly how fast do you eat anyway? Eating is not a time-pressured activity for me, but I have always been able to clean my plate way ahead of everyone else. I don’t chew fast nor do I swallow my food unchewed. I’m also a stimulating dinner partner and I have impeccable manners ”“ at the table and elsewhere. I don’t believe in leaving food on the plate, unlike some people we’ve all met who must leave even just a crumb behind. And in spite of the title of this column, I enjoy my food with much gusto. If you must know how fast I eat, my guess is that I finish one cup of rice with a viand in eight to ten minutes. This isn’t a problem for my eating companions (okay, except for B) and my digestive system. And I hardly ever get stomach aches, which goes to show that I’m doing okay. So if we ever bump into each other, let’s go out for tea and some scones. We’ll have a delightful conversation but I’m sure I’ll be done eating way before you.