Hand-to-mouth eating is an honored tradition in many cultures across the globe since time immemorial. It’s not just a tradition, but a legacy that reflects a community and its cultural identity.
Eating with the hands is quite common in many parts of the world, including much of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It is also customary to eat from communal dishes in the Middle East and North Africa, while food is often shared in India from each other’s plates.
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Eating with hand perceivably looks simple. But the fact is that it is accompanied by certain rules, customs, and etiquettes. Knowing them might spare you some embarrassing moments with your hosts.
For people who consider eating with hands as savage and uncouth need to know how it evokes great emotion. They need to know how putting a morsel of food with hands kindles something very warm, and gentle, and caring.
Yes, you can master the fork and knife, using it flawlessly. But for people who relish food only when they use hands – eating with fork and knife is unthinkable and a mere use of weapons.
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If you break the anatomy of eating with hands you’ll know how it differs from one culture to another. Like in India when you are eating with hands, you need to make use of fingertips more and take care that food isn’t dripping to your palms.
In Muslim cultures, as preached by the Prophet Mohammed the food is meant to be shared and eaten slowly and moderately. And hands keep a check on the speed of eating and the size of the morsel.
Food is always eaten with right hand. Using left hand is disrespectful in India and even in parts of Africa and the Middle East. Even if you feel that your hands are clean it is customary and compulsory to wash your hands thoroughly before and after having your meal.
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And if you are thinking that eating with hands is just limited to India, Africa or the Middle East then you must know this. More and more, people in the U.S. are embracing the hand-to-mouth eating.
Swanky spots like Zak Pelaccio’s Malaysian-inspired Fatty Crab are encouraging people to eat with hands.
Just forget everything and remember that eating food with your hands feeds not just the body, but it also feeds the mind and spirit.