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Friday, 3 August 2012

Portion Sizes

So with the in-laws here there have been some adjustments. I am quite happy to report that the fears I posted about a couple months ago have not been realised. While not easy, it has not been as hard, or as bad as I imagined having my bf's parents stay with us. They are extremely nice people who make an extreme effort to reciprocate any kindness shown to them. This means that when I come home my house is clean (down to laundry folded and put away and our bed made!) and more often than not dinner is on the way. As I mentioned in my last post, it is Ramadan which poses its own difficulties, but honestly, the thing I have the hardest time with is the late hours versus not being able to eat in my own home during the day. They stay up really late. They also like to talk. A lot. I don't know many other Moroccans, but this Moroccan family (especially my bf's mom) likes to talk A LOT. And loudly! My bedroom is connected to the living room...that doesn't equal easy sleeping. So I have ear plugs, and I recently invested in a sleep mask to block out the extra light. It's only for another two weeks before the schedule goes back to normal.

Now, what does this all have to do with portion control? Simple. With bf's mom cooking a lot, I've been noticing a huge change in their portions versus western portions. Now, I know this is no secret. This is quite common knowledge that portion sizes in North America are crazy big. But I didn't expect it in my house. I thought I did pretty well in my house. Apparently not. And I think the reason why is because I have never ever had to make do without. Yes, there have been some weeks where the pickings were slim and I probably had to make do with eating things I didn't really like and it wasn't that plentiful, but never have I done without. So I've noticed that I apparently use meat like it's going out of style. If I am making pasta with chicken in it I will use 3-4 chicken breasts for the 4 of us. My bf's mom would probably use 2, maybe even 1.5. Boy can she stretch out ingredients. During Ramadan Moroccans break their fast with harira, a lentil and chick pea soup made with stewing beef or lamb/goat. With lamb being at a premium in Canada, I buy beef for them. She makes a large pot of soup with about a handful of cut up stewing beef. A handful. And her hands aren't big either. Further, it's not noticeable. Everybody gets some. No, it's not abundant, but everyone gets some (my bf the most of everyone, spoiled mama's boy). You're not hungry at the end of it. It's enough to be satisfied. If I had made the soup, I likely would have put in a good 0.5-1.0 lb of stewing beef. And this is where the difference lies in our cultures, going back to haves and have nots. Same with her couscous. Sometimes she'll put in a chicken leg for each person, sometimes not. And no one ever goes hungry.

In my bf's family there are 7 kids. In a rural part of a developing country, that doesn't usually spell out abundance. Sometimes I have to tell my bf to slow down when he's eating because in a communal eating environment the fastest one gets the best parts. I have to remind him that no one is going to get his food and there is more if he wants. All of this is a great lesson in my own portion control. I don't need tons of food to be satisfied. I also don't need tons of meat. Yes I need my protein, but I don't need to overdose on it. They also eat a lot of beans etc., which is a cheaper, some argue healthier, way to get protein. I can also fill up on other things like veggies (as in the couscous).

It was an interesting observation and one that I hope to take to heart once Ramadan and their visit is over. We can make do on a lot less, and I plan to start living like that.

Have a great long weekend!

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