Maj relationships evolve over time, as do Maj menus. When games are new, certain foods are introduced; some survive while others do not. Here are some things I’ve learned about Maj and food:
First and foremost, a morning game requires coffee. A full pot, unless you have Keurig, in which case a wide selection of pods is suggested. Necessary condiments differ with each person, but after you get to know your players, you learn who uses Equal, who uses soy milk, or that you no longer have to buy Fat Free French Vanilla Coffee Mate because no one adds it to their coffee.
Water bottles or a pitcher of water should always be on hand, since Mah Jongg can create a robust thirst. Try slicing some lemons and cucumbers into your water pitcher for a delicious and refreshing drink.
Breakfast breads, like muffins or scones, are excellent choices, unless your Maj friends are watching their carbs or don’t eat sweets at all. After a few weeks of no one touching the muffins, it’s easy to take them off the menu altogether.
After a good amount of experimentation, the menu for my Wednesday morning Maj group is pretty consistent: Snap peas, Persian cucumbers, baby carrots and Tzatziki dip, trail mix, cheese and crackers (string cheese works well), with grapes rounding out the menu.
For an afternoon group that meets after lunch, say from 1 – 4 pm, snacks can range from simple trail mix and cut up apples to more elaborate fare. Topping the list once again is coffee – this time, however, we’re probably serving decaf, due to the time of day. A snack that was introduced to me during an afternoon game was a block of cream cheese smothered in salsa served with Wheat Thins. Simple yet delicious, however one must take care not to drip the salsa.
That brings me to a very important point: the art of eating while playing. This is not an easy task, with certain foods creating more of a challenge than others. This is where an ample supply of napkins becomes essential.
Trail mix is an easy snack to eat while playing, except when the mix contains chocolate chips. When you notice little brown marks on the tiles, think back to when that chocolate chip was melting in your fingers and it was your turn to pick a tile…
Other snack foods that fall into the ‘wipe your hands first’ category are cheese puffs. While delicious and light to munch on, the cheesy residue left on your fingers can be a pain to remove from Maj tiles.
My evening Maj group used to break for dinner, sitting down at the dining room table to enjoy a delicious meal cooked by the hostess. However, the lure of Maj became so strong that we dispensed with the dinner break and decided to eat dinner while playing. This can be tricky, to say the least.
If you eat a meal while playing, be careful when cutting into food, as I’ve seen salad go flying onto the Maj tiles on more than one occasion. While we had a good laugh, it took a few minutes to clean the food off of the Maj table and make sure the tiles were 100% free of salad dressing residue.
Another obstacle of eating dinner while playing is when the dinner is so delicious that you don’t want to put down your fork in order to pick a tile. This can really slow down the game. Of course this problem could be solved if the hostess weren’t such a great cook…
For dessert, any type of cake or pie, cookies or cupcakes will satisfy. Again, be mindful of potential frosting hazards.
Even after dessert, I still find myself reaching for the bowl of baby carrots, the perfect anytime Maj snack!
Now if you play Maj at a restaurant, that’s an entirely different set of food rules…
If you do play Maj at a restaurant, I would like to know where you play. While I am familiar with some restaurants that welcome Maj players, I would like to compile a comprehensive list. Also, please share any great recipes or snacks that you serve to your Maj group.