Eating with your hands is one of the most intimate relationships you will have with your food. It is sensual, environmentally friendly, clean and your food even tastes better.
Mixing rice with different dishes with your fingers makes each mouthful a unique culinary experience.
Many Indians, Bangladeshis Sri Lankans, Nepalis, Filipinos, Indonesians, Cambodians, Ethiopians, Pakistanis and others eat with their hands within the privacy of their homes. However, years of colonization has made us embarrassed of one of the most personal and intimate habits we have – eating with our hands, especially in public – and we are reluctant to use our hands to eat the very food which we love.
Having been brought up partly in a British style Sri Lankan boarding school in Sri Lanka, we were banned from eating with our hands and encouraged to eat with cutlery.
When Oprah Winfrey visited India a while back, she created a media storm by looking down at the Indians for eating with their hands. In Norway, there have been a handful of cases of kids of Indian and Sri Lankan children being taken into care for being fed by their parents’ hands. The social services misinterpreted it as force-feeding – and hence child abuse !
Former Indian President Dr. Radhakrishnan, met with Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill as they sat down for lunch. Before sitting, Dr. Radhakrishnan washed his hands and as the meal was served, he used his hands in eating the meal.
Churchill asked Dr. Radhakrishnan, “Why are you using your hands? Use spoon and fork, it’s more hygienic.” Radhakrishnan’s reply was, “Since nobody has used my hand to eat before, my hand is more hygienic than any spoon you can find.”
Today, the Western world is increasingly accepting of eating different kinds of food with our hands – burgers, chips, pizza, fruit etc. The use of cutlery has reduced dramatically and all too often we eat with just a fork.
Not too long ago, most ate Chinese and Japanese food with a fork. Now, using chopsticks is all the rage. Similarly, it’s time we made the jump and start eating rice and curry with our hands too.
Drop the shame. Enjoy your food.
www.handfed.org is a website dedicated to the joy of eating with your hands. It includes video and downloadable pictorial diagrams of how to eat with your hands, articles, pictures etc.
Share your pics, stories and anecdotes of eating with your hands – be it burgers, rice and curry, fish and chips, dosas or anything else! #handfed
Check out http://www.handfed.org
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