What do they do with the fruit?

I was having dinner with 2 of my friends at Karam in Downtown the other night, when we decided to order fruit for dessert.  This is what was brought to our table..

Karam Beirut Downtown

The fruit dessert for 3 at Karam in Downtown

Now, I know that in Lebanese culture having a lot of food on the table is a sign of generosity, hospitality, abundance, and prosperity..etc etc..  but really..is it necessary to bring out 6 plates with a total of 30+ fruits on them for a table of only 3 people?

You see..the reason I find this slightly upsetting is that I happen to be one of those people who finds a lot of food on a table very unappetizing (not to mention wasteful).  Weird, I know.  I chalk it up to cultural differences I guess..

My friends (one Englishman, one Lebanese Canadian) and I tried to figure out amongst ourselves what happens with the left over fruits.  We refused to believe that they are all thrown out if not eaten..but..does that mean that the fruits are passed around from table to table like nuts at a bar?  And if that is the case..shouldn’t they be complimentary? 😉

We finally settled on the conclusion that the fruits with skins that cannot be eaten (oranges, bananas, and kiwis) are sent from table to table..and the fruits with skins that can be eaten (apples, pears, and strawberries) are thrown out.

What’s your take?


Filed under eating in Lebanon

14 responses to “What do they do with the fruit?

  1. No they don’t throw the fruits….. they use it again. Food that was on your plate the other-hand they will throw out – even if you didn’t even touch it.

  2. I hope so, although I know not all will go this way, especially with increasing costs. Been inside a restaurant kitchen once, I saw what you mentioned happening in front of me…I guess its the way things are done.

  3. Stephanie Nour

    Interesting question, I know that quite a few restaurants give leftover goods to staff, mainly those who would appreciate it the most. Others leave them, if it’s possible for them and in their neighborhood, out for people to take – but i believe that’s when they probably can’t do the passing along from table to table thing. But in a lot of cases, – even though we do have a lot of waste – perishables are given away when possible.

  4. Hmmmm… yes, the intact ones get passed around or are taken home by staff and I guess the rest thrown away! It is a waste! 🙂

  5. Joanna

    why didn’t you ask them? hehe! I thought it would be the dani thing to do 😀

    you know i’ve always wondered that about not just fruits but all food that is left over at restaurants in general, i really think we can feed the poor and help out a lot of people.. we just need to start an NGO, plan, and contact restaurant owners etc.. a lot of untouched food gets thrown out .. 7aram!

  6. N.

    well six plates yeah, but six different types of fruits for different tastes!
    I can’t imagine going to a Lebanese restaurant and ordering just one or two types of food like most foreigners do. An essential part of eating in a Lebanese restaurant is getting a feel of this generosity you talked about. Otherwise, It might be better to eat at Roadsters or Crepeaway or any other place where you order just one plate for yourself…
    PS. of course, none of the fruit is thrown away.

  7. bigsip

    I Love this post!!
    Karam is a Lebanese restaurant known to give you an authentic Lebanese experience. This fruit display is very familiar to me because I have seen it at home (old people do it all the time) and I also found it odd because even more plates are presented to just ONE person.
    If you wonder what happens to the fruits at restaurants, they are ALL circulated to different tables however, all restaurants comply with certain rules of hygiene and HACCP. They are washed again before their next presentation, in other cases thrown away. Leftover food (non-fruit) is thrown in the garbage because it presents a threat of poisoning if eaten. “General rules of hospitality” :p

  8. Youssef Chaker

    +1 to bgisip. I also asked a friend of mine who works for the ministry of economy and trade and he said that is normal practice to reuse the fruits who were left on the original plate they were served on. He also mentioned that usually you would have a bowl of water that comes with the fruit so you could wash them if you wanted. And if some people are not comfortable with that idea, think of buying fruits from the grocery store or any other place, many hands had touched the fruit before you actual purchase it. So it’s not that much different.

    It’s interesting that you find having a lot of food on the table not appetizing. I like the availability of choice. And being someone with a big appetite, i like knowing that there will be enough for others 😛 I still laugh at the day when my mom came home from work expecting that the meal she cooked the day before, which was supposed to server 4 and still have left overs, was all consumed by just yours truly 😀 I can’t tell if from that day on i learnt to share, or my mom learnt to cook twice the quantity!!

  9. A

    I love the NGO for leftovers…..come on, if they weren’t leftovers, poor people wouldn’t have been worthy????

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  11. Asquared

    Fruits are always complimentary in Lebanese restaurants.. If you didn’t order the fruits , they would have brought them anyway

  12. Danielle, serving fruits is part of the Lebanese society yes, and menu. The waiter will bring them whether your ordered them or not. They are not thrown out as long as you don’t peel or cut them. Fruits have skins so they are easily washable. By the way, I eat kiwi with the skin and it’s veryyyy tasty not to mention very slightly laxative.

    On the other hand, cooked food is thrown out and the remainder in the kitchen is partly eaten by employees, and partly sent to orphanages and care centers. : )

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