Forks and Knives Have Their Place, But Eating Food With Hands Is Awesome

Just after I moved out of my house to go to college, all my college mates and I went out to eat. The nervousness of eating at a decent restaurant took over me because I did not know how to use a fork and knife. I was pretty sure that I was going to embarrass myself. But the surprise came in the form of all my friends digging in using their hands.

Then came the time when I learnt how to use the fork and knife. I mastered them and used them to eat uttapam, but wondered why I should eat the delicacy with a fork, when I could eat it with much dexterity and efficiency with my hands.

And, finally then came the time when I stopped giving a fuck how i ate my food – in public or in private.

And since then every restaurant visit looks like –

1. Go to restaurant
2. Order food
3. Food comes
4. Dig in
5. Lick fingers
6. Look around to see if you shocked people with your “gross” eating habits

And I never got what was gross in eating with your hands, and what is so sophisticated about eating with a fork and a knife. It takes so much more expertise to tear a chapati with just one hand. Use two hands – and my father would give me a hard whack on the back of my head.

And show me one guy who digs into his food with a fork and spoon on a lazy Sunday afternoon, lazing on the sofa.
If you eat like that at your home, why put on a mask of pretense and pretend to play “Colonial Cuisines”? Why not just dig into it like you dig in at home and eat it.

Digging into food with my hands is almost instinctive for us Indians – right from the childhood when our moms used their hands to feed us. They hardly ever used spoons. They just shoved their hands into our reluctant mouths and gave us a full stomach. And right then, is how we started our personal relationship with food.

Now, just imagine if they used forks and knives to feed us when we were kids. Kids are no nonsense when it comes to food and they would have gone,”What the fuck are you doing with that? Stop playing with my food and feed me!”

And, I didn’t even know what forks were until I saw them on restaurant tables and then on television. It all seemed so fascinating then – eating food with a fork and knife.

It felt sophisticated. But after you try both the techniques, there is no replacement for –

1. Manipulating a roti as you want it with your fingers

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2. Watching the syrup ooze from a rasgulla as you hold it in your hands

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3. Dipping a finger into chilled shrikhand and licking it.

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4. Watching South Indians make golf balls out of rice and throwing it in their mouths

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5. Dipping a hot parantha into dal tadka and gulping it, licking the fingers in the process

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6. Finishing saucy dishes with a relish by scooping the remains with your fingers

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7. Cracking a jalebi into two before putting it into your mouths

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8. Non-vegetarians ripping off strips of juicy fried chicken

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9. Feeling the crunch of a potato chip breaking and then licking off the salt from our fingers

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10. Feeling the yummy crust of a fried pakora and then the soft interior as you take a bite

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11. Taking a whole pizza slice and balancing it in one hand by almost folding it, and then trying not to spill the cheese.

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Spoons and forks feel metallic, and somehow fingers feel very right for the job. Except for the liquid food, there are very few things we cannot really enjoy with our hands.

And to drive it home, if forks and knives are really that awesome, how come everyone eats food with their hands when they are at home?

And go on, lick your fingers after a delicious meal – even the English – Lord Prescott fell for it recently.

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Old instincts die hard.

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