“Cheeseburger in Paradise” – By Julia Swoish

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Although I didn’t have a cheeseburger, I definitely ate my fair share of food in my newfound paradise of Cardiff. A group of us went to a Brazilian steakhouse called Viva Brazil for dinner tonight. If you’ve never been to a Brazilian steakhouse, don’t worry, I hadn’t either. Let me just tell you that needs to change. Throughout this post, I will explain how a Brazilian steakhouse works, and how this has anything to do with communication.

The most important thing to know is that each table is given a two-sided plastic chip: one side red with the words “No thank you”, one side green with the words “yes please!” Waiters walk around with swords acting as a skewer through one of the fifteen offered meats.


If the waiter sees that your chip is on the green side, he or she will approach your table with the oversized kabob that he has to offer. There is your first example of nonverbal communication (if based on color of the chip) or written communication (if based on the words on the chip). Without a spoken word, the waiter knows that you are hungry and want more food. If the chip is flipped to red, he knows that you need more time trying and digesting the previously offered food. The waiter also nonverbally communicates to the customer. When you see him picking up a sword full of steak, you know the next course is on the way.

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Similarly, those at the table communicate nonverbally to each other. This was most evident tonight when the waiter brought over a skewer full of what we soon realized were chicken hearts. Looking at the faces of Hallie and Casey across the table from me turn briefly into those of fear let me know that they, too, were nervous. That said, we all shrugged as a sign of acceptance and we tried chicken hearts together.

Finally, it was easy to tell who was still going strong and who was slowing down and uncomfortably full. I, for one, held on to my stomach with one hand, put my elbow on the table, and rested my face in my other hand as a sign of exhaustion and achievement to my companions. I will say though, that bit of rest was well-deserved, as I ended up trying at least one bite of each of the fifteen foods offered.

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Me feeling defeated after a long meal.

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