Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Eating with ones fingers and hands


Recommended Posts

Vishnu had returned. He was sitting on a chair next to the couch. He had a plate of food and he was eating with his hands. Not his hands: his right hand, only. He had mostly rice and potatoes on his plate, with very little sauce. Some of Kabir’s pickled red pearl onions, too. He mashed a bit of potato to a rough paste on the plate between his thumb and first two fingers. He mixed that with some rice, still mashing. He shaped the mixture into a small ball, dipped his head towards the plate and brought the food to his lips. Then a pickled onion went into his mouth, followed by more rice and potato.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you eat with your hands?

Do you know others that do?

What dishes work best to be enjoyed in this manner?

Is there a perfect time and place for eating with ones hands?

IS there anything special about eating with ones hands?

Any stories about this?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kabir was sitting out on the deck, trying to catch whatever breeze the night might produce. There wasn’t much but it was late enough that the air was as cool as it was going to get before the sun came up again. He looked satisfied, as if he’d had a lot of good food to eat. Also pensive, as if there were still a lot to digest. All of the guests had gone home. Kabir hadn’t allowed anyone to hang around to clean up. He had been cleaning obsessively since everyone had left. The kitchen was in decent shape and he was taking a break. It was about two a.m.

“Like all of the Indian-Americans you met tonight, I live in a world halfway between India and someplace else. My maternal grandfather was English at heart. Despite that, he became a patriot and very Gandhi-like in his ways. He burned all of his Saville Row clothing when Gandhi asked Indians to stop buying British cloth. Gandhi called for India to support its home culture by wearing handspun Indian clothing instead. That was meant to hurt the British economy and it did. But despite being a patriot, my grandfather was always very conscious of the necessity of raising my mother and her siblings in an Anglo-Indian atmosphere. That such an upbringing would give us the best possible life in this world. They spoke English at home. No Punjabi was spoken with the children lest their accents get "Indianized". In fact, my mother didn’t really learn Hindi and Urdu until she was forced to learn by helping us do our homework over the years.”

“I was watching Vishnu eat tonight. My mother and I were the only two in our family that did not eat with our hands. My father would press me to eat with my hands, offering me treats as encouragement. Nothing changed me. I was not into it. I still can't. One part of me tries very hard to eat with my hands, since I realize how sensuous it really is. It goes with the way I cook – enjoying the touch and feel of food as I prepare it. I feel robbed of that learning period, those childhood years when I could have become adept at eating with my hands. Without making a mess.”

Kabir stood up and took a look at what was left of the New York night. He went back inside. I stayed a moment on the deck thinking about what he had said. I wondered: if Kabir had learned to eat with his hands as a kid, would he feel so stuck between cultures now? I followed him inside.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Eating with your hands...............

I actually eat with my hands.

Gujarti orgin - which is where I come from originally.

It is a very common occurence. Chapatis and curry ( shakh) as we call it. Our staple diet.

I for one find it the most convienent. You can scoop and mop things up quite easily.

When we go to an Indian restaurant is it highly acceptable manner of eating. The only thing deterring one is the large amount of food colouring they use in the cooking. Staining your fingers yellow or red for several hours later.

South Indians I think? Squash the rice and yoghurt together in a ball and then pop it in their mouths.

I have to admit to not being able/wish to do this and rice for me is most daintily eaten with a spoon!

Other foods easily eaten with your hands would be things like finger foods - pickles, bhajias(pokoras), breads, papad (popadoms), dry curries and salad ( kuchumber).

Oh yes I forgot to mention the added bonus of less washing up after the meal!

H

Link to post
Share on other sites

My friend Aakash who is in town eats with his hands at Indian places. He is (forgive my spelling) of Udrathi heritiage.

I tried it a little bit and am horribly inefficient in this style. I can never get enough food.

Perhaps we could market this as the next fad diet!!!

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will eat mixed green salad with one hand, even if it is dressed. I did this once at a black tie Park Avenue dinner party, and provoked open mouthed gaping.

I will also eat green beans with one hand.

Actually, in both cases, it's the thumb and middle finger of my right hand.

Bread, of course, and things soaked and swiped up with bread, are eaten with the hands.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I eat as much as I can get away with with my fingers, I prefer eating salad that way. When I eat alone I definately do. Roast chicken (a favorite eating alone food) is not the same with a knife and fork.

I think if you can do it gracefully there should be no problem, carefully placing food in you mouth with clean fingers is so much differnt than grabbing hunks and shoving in to a gapping maw. However I have been comfronted with loaves of bread that have tempted me to do just that.

I believ it is proper to eat asparagus with your fingers

"sometimes I comb my hair with a fork" Eloise

Link to post
Share on other sites

I eat bread with my hands, but endeavor to limit my hands touching anything else in a meal, when practicable. I sometimes have to twist wings off whole rotisserie chicken with my hands. Also, I sometimes will use my hands to bring the shell of an oyster to my mouth to take in the jus after having taken in the flesh of the oyster with the assistance of utensils. I guess some amuses and petits fours are intended to be taken using the hand.

For langoustines, larger prawns and shrimps, ecrevisses (crayfish), langouste, cigales de mer, lobster, all salads, etc., I use utensils. I don't like the smell of food lingering on my hands, particularly since I may not have a little vial of perfume with me with which to render them in acceptable condition again. :hmmm:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly agree about asparagus.

Whole lobster and crab in the shell are perhaps the ultimate eat-with-your-hands foods.

I once received a lesson (not without subtext) from a waitress in New Orleans about eating crayfish with my hands, the way it's intended in that context.

Also, lots of fried foods: french fries, calamari fritti, etc.

It's worth noting that, once the fun's over, one wants to wash up as quickly as possible. If I'm stuck at a table, an ice cube from the water glass stands in nicely. Mazal always carries some kind of hand wipes.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I love eating with my hands but I'm not very good at it. I remember being invited to an Indian wedding

and everybody was eating with their hands. . I felt very embarassed to eat in a banana leaf with a fork.

I knew I was missing something but I just coudn't do it. I can manage a biryani or anything dry such as fried chicken or pizza. Also, if I'm eating seafood (specially crabs) at home I will use my hands to suck all the juice LOL. That's about it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I lead a simple life. I will eat any food in whatever way is the easiest. With a porterhouse steak I will happily gnaw on the bone after I've removed what comes readily with a knife and fork. Chicken? I always chew and suck on the bones, though I try not to do so noisily in public places. In a restaurant I'll wipe up the juices with a piece of bread in hand, not resorting to the "gentility" of breaking off pieces and then wiping them around with a fork.

At home we clean up sauces with a spoon; if they're particularly tasty we then wipe the plate with a finger and suck it. (I don't lick the plate -- the juices get in my beard. :biggrin: ) We don't eat bread with a meal, including cheese -- it's unnecessary extra calories we'd rather assign to the meal itself. After all, it merely derives from the ancient necessity of making the meat go further. (Unless, of course, the meal is bread and cheese, which is another matter entirely.)

Soup? If it's clear and thin, I'll happily drink it from the bowl.

I'm told that the artificial gentility of extending the little finger while picking up a scone, for instance, with ones fingers derives from the mediaeval custom of reaching into the common bowl to extract the meat from the broth. If your pinky remained above the surface, it showed that you weren't diving to the bottom for the biggest, choicest bits. :biggrin:

Suvir: I like your introducing topics with fictional fragments which give them a setting, like a frame around a painting.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

Link to post
Share on other sites

Food and eating are a joy to me and I like the idea of playing with one's food.

I touch food when I cook and when I eat. I usually start off with cutlery, but if there are large peices of vegetable, bread, meat on bones or small crispy things involved, in go the fingers.

What ever makes the meal more enjoyable...(and unlike John Whiting I don't have a beard, so plate licking is always a possibility :raz:)

How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...
Do you eat with your hands?

Do you know others that do?

What dishes work best to be enjoyed in this manner?

Is there a perfect time and place for eating with ones hands? 

IS there anything special about eating with ones hands?

Any stories about this?

I read somewhere -- Eating Indian food with a fork and knife is like trying to make love thru an interpretor!

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

Link to post
Share on other sites

Will Suvir or someone else give us a lesson in proper eating-with-one's-hand etiquette at the Diwan dinner? I too love to use my hands, but have never eaten Indian food that way. Ethiopian, yes -- is it similar to using injera?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Will Suvir or someone else give us a lesson in proper eating-with-one's-hand etiquette at the Diwan dinner?  I too love to use my hands, but have never eaten Indian food that way.  Ethiopian, yes -- is it similar to using injera?

Yes I would think it is very similar.. Or at least Indians would use injira the same was as we use Indian breads.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I love to eat with my hands!

It really depends on what I am eating though.

Long veggies like green beans, asparagus, etc just scream for the hands, unless they are in a very creamy/oily sauce.

I love to use breads to pick up foods.

Or wrapping foods in rice paper. lettuces, cabbage leaves, etc

I will never touch chopsticks to a piece of sushi!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
    • By Deeps
      This is one of my daughter favorite dishes, being mild and less spicy she loves this rice dish.  Its super easy to make and goes well with most Indian curries.
      Do try this out and I am sure you will be happy with the results.
       

       
      Prep Time : 5 mins
      Cook Time: 5 mins
      Serves: 2
       
      Ingredients:
      1 cup rice(basmati), cooked
      1/2 cup coconut, shredded or grated
      1 green chili, slit
      1 dried red chili
      1 1/2 tablespoon oil/ghee(clarified butter)
      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
       
      Directions
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By loki
      Sweet Eggplant Pickle

      This is an Indian pickle, some would call a chutney, that I made up from several sources and my own tastes. It is based it on my favorite sweet brinjal (eggplant here in the US) pickle available commercially. It has onion and garlic, which are often omitted in some recipes due to dietary restrictions of some religious orders. It also has dates which I added on my own based on another pickle I love. I also used olive oil as mustard oil is not available and I like it's taste in these pickles. Use other oils if you like. This has more spices than the commercial type - and I think it's superior. I avoided black mustard seed, fenugreek, and cumin because almost all other pickles use these and they start to taste the same. One recipe from Andhra Pradesh used neither and I followed it a little. It's wonderful with all sorts of Indian foods - and also used for many other dishes, especially appetizers.
      SPICE MIX (Masala)
      4 Tbs coriander seeds
      3 hot chilies (I used a very hot Habanero type, so use more if you use others)
      18 cardamom pods
      2 inches cinnamon
      24 cloves
      1 1/2 Tbs peppercorns
      MAIN INGREDIENTS
      1 cups olive oil
      4 inches fresh ginger, minced fine, about 1/2 cup
      6 cloves garlic, minced
      1 large onion finely chopped
      3 lb eggplant, diced, 1/4 inch cubes
      1/2 lb chopped dates
      1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
      2 cups rice vinegar (4.3 percent acidity or more)
      2 cups brown sugar
      2 Tbs salt
      2 tsp citric acid
      Spice Mix (Masala)

      1. Dry roast half the coriander seeds in a pan till they begin to brown slightly and become fragrant - do not burn. Cool.

      2. Put roasted and raw coriander seeds and all the other spices in a spice mill and grind till quite fine, or use a mortar and pestle. Put aside.

      Main Pickle

      1. Heat half the oil and fry ginger till slightly browned, slowly.

      2. Add garlic, onion, and half the salt and fry slowly till these begin to brown a bit too.

      3. Add eggplant, turmeric, and spice mix (Masala) and combine well. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      4. Add rest of ingredients, including rest of the salt and olive oil and heat slowly to a boil.

      5. Boil for about 5 minutes. Add a little water if too thick - it should be nearly covered with liquid, but not quite - it will thin upon cooking so wait to add the water till heated through.

      6. Bottle in sterilized jars and seal according to your local pickling instructions. This recipe will be sufficiently acidic.
    • By loki
      Sour Tomatillo Achar

      Made this one up from a recipe for lemons. It really works for tomatilloes. A unique spice mix, and really sour for a 'different' type of pickle, or achar. It is based on a Marwari recipe - from the arid north-western part of India. Tomatilloes are not used in India (or at least not much) but are quite productive plants in my garden while lemons or other sour fruits are not possible to grow here. No vinegar or lemon juice is used, because tomatilloes are very acidic and don't need any extra.

      Ingredients
      3 lbs tomatilloes husks removed and quartered
      1/4 cup salt
      1 Tbs black mustard seeds
      2 star anise buds
      10 dried chilies (I used very hot yellow peppers)
      1 tsp fenugreek seeds
      2 inch ginger (ground to a paste)
      2 TBL dark brown sugar
      1/2 cup sugar

      1. In a large bowl, put the tomatilloes and sprinkle salt over them. Cover it and leave for a day, mixing occasionally.

      2. Next day drain the tomatilloes.

      3. Dry roast the star anise (put in first as these take longer, the black mustard, and the chilie pods (add last and barely brown in places). Cool.

      4. Grind the roasted spices with the fenugreek and put aside.

      5. Add tomatilloes, ginger, sugars, and everything else to a large pan and heat to boiling.

      6. Cook till fully hot and boiling.

      7. Fill half-pint jars and seal.
    • By rxrfrx
      South Indian Style Broccoli
      Serves 2 as Main Dish.
      Broccoli isn't a traditional Indian vegetable, but I designed this recipe to use up leftover boiled broccoli in the style of cauliflower.

      3 c broccoli, cut up and cooked
      3 T oil
      2 T cumin seeds
      2 tsp tumeric
      2 tsp corriander powder
      2 green chilis, sliced thinly
      1/2 c chopped cilantro
      salt, to taste

      Fry the spices in the oil until they smoke a little. Add the broccoli and chilis and fry for a couple minutes to get the flavors mixed. Add salt to taste and stir in the cilantro before serving with chapati.
      Bonus recipe: just before adding the cilantro, crack 2-4 eggs into the pan and stir them around.
      Keywords: Main Dish, Side, Easy, Vegan, Vegetables, Indian
      ( RG2107 )
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...