Imagine that we were seated at a table breaking with many delicious dishes, and absolutely no cutlery was put on it.
What will be our confusion, because without the usual forks and spoons at the table, we literally feel like without hands. Then it’s time to mentally travel to a country where cutlery has never been honored in the entire thousand-year history, and where the only device used for food is the right hand.
And this country is a fabulous India. Here, an Indian takes a little rice, mixes it with other dishes, makes a small ball that deftly sends it directly to his open mouth. He does the same with drinking: lifting a vessel with a drink high above his head, he pours the liquid into his wide open mouth, avoiding touching his lips even to the edge of the vessel.
They do approximately the same in the Middle East and in some regions of Africa. The right hand is considered clean in those parts, and it is used for food, and the left hand is used to collect crumbs from the table, wipe lips or wipe the right hand.
Finger food – this name was given by dry Europeans to a whole direction in culinary, for foods that are eaten exclusively with the help of hands.
For India, hand food is a philosophy. As the prime minister of this country jokingly once said, the legendary Jawaharlal Nehru: “Eating food with a fork and spoon is tantamount to making love with the help of an interpreter.”
But civilized Europeans are not appeasing, and the trongs have already been invented – special jagged caps for three fingers, so as not to stain your fingers with food.
It is not accepted to eat with cutlery in Mexico, where it is considered snobbery. Food is scooped up with a piece of thin cake, holding it in your right hand and helping with your left hand. But the neighbors, in Chile and Brazil, even eat a hamburger with a knife and fork, there is generally nothing to eat with your hands.
It’s hard to say where different nations have love or dislike for cutlery, but they use them each in their own way. For example, in Thailand they take a fork in their hands only because it is convenient to push the second into a spoon with which they eat. The owners of such a strange habit can safely tell astonishing strangers that they have just brought it from Tai. In France, on the contrary, a broken piece of bread pushes food onto a fork, and it turns out that we are all a little French.
But the inhabitants of Japan, China and Korea did come up with their own cutlery that distinguished them from the rest of the world, but did not make them friends – thin sticks of bamboo, bone, wood or metal. If you practice a little, it turns out that they are very convenient, and they can easily pick up even a grain of rice. With chopsticks, of course, you can’t eat soup like a spoon, but you can catch all the thick, and just drink the remaining liquid.
In China they were called “helpers”, once the length of the sticks reached 1 foot (about 40 cm) and there was such a custom (or maybe it still exists in the Chinese outback) – with the help of sticks the owner chose the tidbits on a common dish and put them in the mouth of a distinguished guest.