Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sticky Fingers

The Shah of Iran is reported to have said "Eating with a knife and fork is like making love through an interpreter."

I know what he means. Fish and chips and a haggis supper just don't taste the same on a plate with a knife and fork.

Reading the Australian Sunday Magazine last week, there was an article on the increasing popularity of eating food with your hands by Maeve OMeara, SBS Food Safari Specialist. Obviously a lot of fast food, fruit and breakfast food is served up that way and indeed in many parts of the world eating with your hands is the way to go. She was talking more about restaurant food and is it the next big thing?

When we lived in Singapore I used to like to go to the Fish Head Curry Restaurants and eat off a banana leaf. I didn't ever eat any fish head curry, but the other curries were very tasty. The whole experience was very tactile and messy and me, being a natural slob used to come out looking like a six month old with their first meals. My friend Richard, who worked for the Australian Foreign Service had a great picture of him with Bob Hawke at one of those restaurants. I didn't know who he was at the time, but it doesn't really compute now that I know who he is (was??).

That said, you can get a lot more food down your throat faster than this alternative.

As a society we became very used to chopsticks over two decades ago. I didn't become completely comfortable until my years in Singapore. Now it is just one of those things. It is a little like skiing. Tricky until you get the hand of it.

But are we ready for mainstream hand eating in restaurants?

Maeve predicts that this will be the next big thing with many restaurants only offering cutlery on demand. A good washing up bowl in the restaurant will become an essential item and based on my own experience, expect to spend more on dry cleaning and laundry. That and you are going to have to relax and drop that feeling of self consciousness as you dive into a large pile of food. Just think, you wont have to worry about what that pesky third spoon from the right is to be used for. That and is it ok to use the left hand and how do you get all those curry smells off your hand will be minor details as you tuck in.

Interesting idea since our kids started off using their hands and it was considered a graduation into a new adult world when they started to use eating implements. Other than additional clothes and floor washing, perhaps it has some merit. That and you could save a lot of time, power and water from reduced dishwashing. You could get ETS credits. How could that be bad?

But how would you eat porridge?

Thanks Mottekaero jDonuts


Katney said...

In India less than a week, I attended a banquet. Not a posh banquet--it was in a school dining hall--but it was a banquet. Service was on banana leaves and no flatware was provided.

Others in my group had practiced eating during the few days we had been there. I hadn't. I wasn't going to eat curry with myhands when I came home, an my hands just did not quite work into the correct position.

As I sat at this banquet, with a wonderful meal in front of me, I looked up to see one of our Indian hosts watching me. He was skeptical of us as it was, and here I was bubmling about with my meal.

"So, katney. Do you think you have landed amnong a bunch of uncouth barbarians?" or something like that.

I replied: "No, I have come into a highly developed civilization for which I am totally unprepared to cope."

Never did master that eating curry with the hands thing.

Katney said...

Well, that word wad "bumbling" I was bumbling about my meal.

I think my other typos are at least legible. Why don't I spellcheck?

Jayne said...

Feral Beast is rather proud of his dexterous finger eating so he's aleady ahead of the fashion field :P

Colin Campbell said...


What a great story. I wonder how other people would deal with that. I know in my travels, that people have no problem providing forks to "incompetent" westerners who can't use chop sticks. Not being able to use your hands is somewhat different.

I think when it comes down to it, most people in Western societies would consider it uncouth to sit down and eat curries and the like with your hands. A bit odd really since we eat pakora, nan bread and other parts of the meal with our hands.