Saturday, December 11, 2010

stone soup

so you may remember (assuming you have nothing better to do than memorize my blog entries) that in a post from india i noted my amazement at the way colleagues at the office in delhi do lunch. there, everyone brings left-overs from home, and sits around a big table (sometimes in shifts), sharing everything with one another.
it fosters a sense of unity, comraderie and openness that i have yet to see in any US office (we're lucky if we eat lunch somewhere other than at our desks).

in tanzania, they take the ritual one step further, and really make lunch a community affair: each day, every employee brings some grocery item (tomatoes, rice, meat, whatever they have)and adds it to the community pot - literally! taking the daily produce haul, the office attendant (they have a lady who basically does the cooking/cleaning in the office) adds a few spices, maybe some other left-overs from previous days, and creates a meal for everyone to enjoy together. and when i offered to bring in something to add, i was promptly informed that guests (like me) are instructed only to enjoy themselves. now that's lunch!

1 comment:

Vera said...

In Russia and Central Asia, virtually every company has a cook. The driver takes the cook to the market every morning and you can already smell things simmering for the communal lunch when you arrive in the morning. At 12:30 your phone would ring, the secretary would call each person and their desk and inform them that lunch was ready.

Natalia Fyodorovna always had one soup, two salads, a main protein, and at least one side starch (sometimes two). In the summertime she would make homemade "kompot", a juice made of stewed fruits. In the kitchen, she always had a delicious "zavarka" (tea concentrate -- she'd stew a mass of tea leaves in a little pot that you added to your mug, then hot water to make a delicious, fresh cup of tea) going.
Her sorrel soup was nothing short of spectacular (and the reason I am going to plant sorrel in my garden next spring).

We'd all sit around a huge table, shoot the poop, and just enjoy a break from work. The camaraderie was lovely, the food was fabulous, and you'd go back to your desk refreshed and renewed.

In the US, we're hermetically sealed into our offices, with rarely any reason to interact other than a meeting. It's cruel and inhumane. Imagine how much happier and more productive we'd be if we had a 20-30 min lunch break in the fresh air and sunshine with people we truly wanted to be with.

Thanks for sharing your travels with us, you're a super-duper blogger with a great perspective. Keep on blogging!