Having grown up in a house of mixed nationality, I have been exposed to different ways to eat my food. My dad is from Sri lanka and in Sri Lanka they eat with their hands. Now I know you might think that this is quite barbaric but it has a knack to it. It has come to my interest how other cultures eat their food and how eating it in different ways may be effecting the way we see our food.
Eating with your hand, the Sri Lankan way.
To start this off I’d like to say that the first time my boyfriend came to my house to eat a curry with his hand, he asked my mam, “Are we doing a hand job?”. Giggles. It would probably be best off not to call it that and I’ll refer to it as eating with my hand.
If you have ever gotten a real Indian or Sri Lankan curry you might come to realise how hard it is to eat it with a fork and knife. A dinner in Sri Lanka may consist of 5+ different dishes. Rice, chicken curry, dahl (lentils), a vegetable dish (shredded carrots) and popadoms. The best way (not just my opinion) to eat this array of flavours is to mix them all up together on your plate with your hand. In one mouthful you get an explosion of different flavours of cocount, spices and different textures of soft rice, crunchy popadoms.Now I know you might think that this is quite barbaric but it has a knack to it.
Instructions to eat with your hand
With your writing hand, put your five fingertips together. This is how you’ll pick up your food. Now open your hand, palm facing upwards, look at the first line on your fingers after your finger tips. The food should not go past this line if you want to be tidy eating with your hand, however, my whole fingers are covered in curry every time I use my hand. Now if you are at an Indian or Sri Lankan restaurant and you have a few dishes on the table. Put a little of everything on your plate and mix together by bringing your fingertips together and apart. Pick up a mouthful of the mixture of food and use your thumb to push it into your mouth. And there you go, you’ve eaten with your hand Sri Lankan style. Now that your hand is covered in curry, garlic and tumeric. Make sure to wash with a half a lime. Lime will help get rid of the smell of curry from your fingertips.
As my dad loved cooking all different dishes for us growing up, I learnt how to use chopsticks at a very young age. I remember being frustrated at the age of 6 and eating a noodle one strand at a time to get the technique of using chopsticks. Chopsticks are used in more of oriental Asia, so China and Japan and Korea. If you make a noodle dish at home or go to a real Chinese restaurant(not for a 2 in 1). Try it out, you’ll get a real taste of the culture and the meal nearly tastes better when you eat it the way it was intended.
Eating with your hands bbq style.
Barbecue originated in Australia. Bush fires killed some of the animals leaving remains of cooked meat which the Aborigines enjoyed much more than raw meat. They began to make their own fires and cooked the meat and shared it with the tribe. When black slaves were brought to America, they brought the bbq style cooking with them. Cooking whole animals at the bbq and everyone eating together seems much more natural to me than going to a five star restaurant and getting a tiny bit of meat with a flower and little pattern of sauce on the plate. You can’t deny that it feels great to get a big chunk of meat, to hold the bone and eat it with your hands and have sauce all over your face. Well, I love it anyway.
Cutlery can be dated back to the Roman Empire and has taken over most Westernised Countries. I’m not going to lie, it’s probably my least favourite way to eat. It seems unnatural to me to have a two knifes, two forks and two spoons. I think that’s right. It seems just too perfect to me. The food made for us to eat has been made, cut, processed for us to eat with a knife and fork. Meat has been cut into small little pieces and put onto the plate with a little sauce and a lump of mashed potatoes for our convenience. To me there is something inhumane or robotic to this, but this is just my opinion. I feel like when I use cutlery I lose using some of my senses. I lose the sense of touch with my food and even smell.
Which way is best?
There is no best way to eat, but I do love eating with my hands. You get to feel the food and mix it together the way you like it. If you travel to Asia and never use your hands than you are not experiencing their culture. If you are interested in different cultures and how to eat from different cultures, you should come along to our Real Bia events at Aclai.
How food these days have made us lose a connection with the food
Packed sandwiches.They look pretty there’s no mess, they make things as easy as possible . The industry has made food to eat in the quickest and easiest way as possible. That’s why in my opinion why people are unhealthy. We have lost a connection with food. Food should be cooked together and eaten together. It shouldn’t be a plastic covered item that can be eaten in 5 minutes so you can rush off and do something else. We can die if we don’t eat, you can’t die if you don’t answer all your emails. What’s more important, your health or how many tasks you complete in a day?
If you are interested in learning about how different cultures eat and you want to learn how to eat with yours hand, come along to our Real Bia event which will be starting on the 4th of June.
This article was written by Shakira Coonghe Bsc.