The Default Option

sushi on brown wooden board

The typical Japanese meal comprises of multiple small plates with a variety of different foods. Fish, rice, miso soup and pickles typically make up the core, but of course for more variety other dishes are often added.

The dishes are all of a reasonable size, so that you can control how much you eat, but I always found it odd how when you ask for ‘omori’ or a large portion, this ‘omori’ applies to each and every dish.

What this means is that the total amount between a ‘normal’ portion and a large portion is quite considerable. There is no middle ground between this nomal and large.

In my case, when I was served food, such as at elementary schools, or at my in-laws, because I am taller than most people it was assumed I eat more (not true), so I would often get omori, even without asking for it.

Basically, I was getting more food without wanting it. Obviously this means that I was getting fat, something that I never want to happen to me. In this case, it really helps to say no. However, of course it is difficult to say no to something freshly made for you, put right in front of you. It was a pretty funny predicament to be in when I lived with my in-laws, but it really taught me the power of saying no.

When we don’t speak up, we are given the default options. The default option is decided on the community basis, so often it can be at odds with what the individual wants. If the default option is OK for you, then that’s great. But if you don’t like the default option, realise that you have the option to say no, and you can do things in your own way.

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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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