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Eric: Sharing

July 12, 2010

Moroccans share a lot of things. More than likely, food is brought in on big plates to be put in the center of the table, where everyone shares it, instead of the individual plates Americans are used to. This is actually also pretty common in both Italy and Taiwan, where you order dishes to be shared with everyone (obviously individuals plates of food are also available if you want them). However, that’s not the only thing Moroccans share. Going to a cafe, a tea stand, or an orange juice stand, the drink you order comes in a glass or a cup, just like in the US. However, if you ask for water, it is very likely that you will see the waiter pour water into a communal cup and give it to you. He will do the same for every other customer who wants water. That cup is specifically for water, and is not rinsed after one person uses it. It’s a little hard for me to adjust to that, as I couldn’t help but think about what other people may have and what I may get if I drink from the communal cup. I am fine with doing that if it’s with my host-family, but when I have no idea what proportion of Fez’s population drinks from a certain cup, I am a little skeptical.

The sharing doesn’t stop there. Sitting in a train compartment, if you are drinking or eating something, you should offer some to people sitting in the same compartment as you, whether you know them or not. I don’t have a problem with food, but if it’s a bottle of water, I am a little hesitant. I really don’t mind if it’s someone I know, but knowing that I might still want to drink from the same bottle later, I really don’t want to get whatever the previous person may have. It’s even worse when you can visibly see what the person has, but not have enough strength to actually say no to him/her. Yes, I know I probably worry too much, but I rather stay as healthy as I can manage in a country that’s not so familiar to me, even though seeing a doctor here is very very cheap (about 10 to 15 Dh per visit).

Sharing is a very much agreed upon value. In my host-family, I obviously could eat something without offering any to my host-brothers, but that would be considered rude. It is more socially acceptable and correct to offer whatever you are having to them. Maybe Americans place too much emphasis on private property. I am really impressed with how much people trust each other here (it’s a different story when it involves tourists though), enough to the point that sharing doesn’t create much problem. We have so much to learn…

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