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Johnny, Please Use Your Hands While Eating

Johnny, Please Use Your Hands While Eating

I am so excited about the Food section of the Huffington Post. I read the HP every day on my iPhone on the way to work, and check it before I go to bed at night, sometimes disappointed that I’ve read every story I want to read. With the addition of the Food section, I can continue to feed my addiction. (Ok, that was corny, even for me).

While surveying the main page, I came across a “Dear Abby” style letter from writer Andrew Knowlton ( about eating with your hands. Using your hands to eat is a funny topic when it comes to Indian food. As many people are aware, Indian flat breads such as naan or roti are eaten with your hands. A small piece is ripped-off (using only one hand if you’re an expert), then used to scoop up sabji or daal. However, I know more than one Indian who has snickered at those who are “uncivilized” enough to also use their hands when eating rice. It seems there is a line in the sand, those who think it is ok to use their hands with roti and perhaps the occasional samosa, and those who think it is all fair game, drinking directly from the bowl. I have to admit, family members have been accused of laughing out loud at folks who let the daal drip down their wrist while eating with their hands. We call them “chasers” after the mouth scampering down the wrist to lick up that last bit of sambar.

As long as your hands are cleaned, before and after (I hope), it is all social convention. So in my opinion, get over it. Use your hands, chopsticks, 9-piece flatware settings, whatever. Honestly, does it really matter? Ok, maybe a little, out of cultural courtesy. But it is one thing to strive to eat as might be appropriate in a given cultural setting, and another to turn your nose up at people who might not have it down. I remember someone laughing at me for using my hands to eat Sushi, when another guest pointed out that it is actually ok and even done at higher-end restaurants (because if the rich do it, it’s alright).  I admit, I’m guilty of using my right hand for the fork and left hand for my knife, but at least I don’t cut my roti with the knife, not that it is anyone’s business!


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