What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The post-meal burp

While watching the Chuck Heston classic Ben-Hur with some good friends the other day, I was reintroduced to the Islamic post-meal burp, a soft belch to tell the cook the meal was delicious. As a well read college student, I had, of course, already encountered the Muslim burp, but the significance and vulgarity of the act had been on my mind's back burner, so to speak, and the concept was only elevated to mental awareness in the scene where Hugh Griffith waited for Heston to “gush forth.”

That burp was so disturbing that it haunted me throughout a very violent chariot race. While horses and riders were crashing to the hard packed dirt of the circus, I tried to softly force a burp as the film's hero had done on screen. Fortunately for those sitting in my vicinity, my attempts were futile. Even during the climactic conclusion depicting Christ's Passion, my mind was distracted by thoughts of the mechanics of my gastrointestinal tract.

This would be a good time to tell you that if you are munching on taquitos while reading this, you would be well advised to lay the food aside until the post is concluded.

But I digress.

After a little experimentation at home and during class, I discovered that carbonated beverages like Root Beer and Coke are best at inducing oxygenated disgorgements. It took a little practice, but I was finally able to teach my esophagus the appropriate muscle memory to coax a long and loud belch at a moments notice. Oh, what skill!

But personal ability doesn't answer the Muslim burping question; why do the dudes in turbans and the girls in burquas always let it out after a hearty chow down?

In search of answers to the Islamic burping question, I discovered the International Dining Etiquette Guide (IDEG), which is one of the most respected authorities on post-meal burping. IDEG had the following revealing advice:

A natural phenomenon that occurs after filling up your insides, burping, is considered impolite in the modern West. But this used to signal, in certain corners of the world, that the host had provided enough food and if the guests didn't burp at least three times, they were clearly not satisfied and the host was poor, or just plain cheap.
As the Burger King advertisement reminds us, we mustn't “hold back.”

But three times? Who does the guide think we are? Tom Cruise? 

IDEG continues:

This [belching] idea comes from the religious reformer Martin Luther...who said:
Warum pfurzet und ruelpset ihr nicht, hat es euch nicht geschmecket?
Which roughly translates as:
Why don't you [pfurzet] and burpeth, didn't you fancy the meal?
IDEG is not able to explain how a concept supported by the Christian reformer Martin Luther has become so accepted within the Muslim community, but we can accept the assertion for the sake of argument.

The ancients, then, have long regarded a little gas as a sign of gratitude. To rhyme: “a little air down there gives the meal a flair.”

Apparently the good Luther was successful at propagating his belching concept in more lands than just the oil rich Middle East. As IDEG explains:

It is actually considered a compliment in some parts of the Southern United States to burp during a meal. For some reason, though, men are expected to give this compliment and not women.
How sexist! For the record, I like a woman who can rip off a good belch. 'Tis a sign of tranquility...except, of course, for the stomach for whom it is a sign of upset.

So the next time I visit a southern home or travel in a Muslim country, I will inconspicuously sip a carbonated beverage during the meal and hold back the little hicks for one giant post meal thanks.


Jacqui said...

"soda slurping / the art of burping / things that girls just / don't understand..." -"We Were the Kings," The View From Here (Bob Bennett)

One lady in our church gained instant respect from all the teenage guys (though I wouldn't necessarily endorse this behavior...) by out-belching them in a bet they caught her in. :-)

Har har har. For that foul behavior, young man, you must drop down and give me twenty!!

Ryan said...

This whole thing is disgusting. Why engage?