Finger Eatin’ Good *Video*

I was fairly appalled the other day when I grabbed a spoon and started shoveling copious amounts of rice into my mouth. Apparently, my utensil of choice these days is the same as a 3-year old.

Being spoon-fed is secondary only to eating with my hands, my other M.O. for meals. You wouldn’t think so, but eating with your fingers is surprisingly tricky. There are “rules” involved as I’ve begun to find out.

Here’s a rundown of how to eat with your hands…

Knuckle Play: Sri Lanka

At their beautiful home in Colombo, my friends Utthama and PK showed me how to eat Sri Lankan food properly – with your fingertips. Apparently, it’s gauche to have the food go above your second knuckle. No curry, no chili sauce can splash higher.

At first I thought the demarcation line was the first knuckle and I could barely pick anything up with my not-so-nimble digits. Luckily we practiced within the confines of the breakfast table.

We ate string hoppers (pictured here, waiting to be steamed), with sambol, a type of shredded coconut salad with chili and onion. Yum! (Although, in my humble opinion, not-so-very breakfasty.)

Thumb Flick: Nepal

The thumb flick was shown to me by several people, but my friend Madan was most patient (and persistent!). He showed me again and again while eating dinner at his home in Kathmandu.

In the end, my technique was OK, but apparently I didn’t knead the rice enough, so it didn’t hold together. This meant that the rice ball I formed wasn’t firm enough to flick neatly into my mouth…I did try though.

Incidentally, Madan runs a very cool bio-fuel environmental program in the Everest Area valley. Before dinner he gave me a tour of his organic vegetable garden and chicken farm. He also proudly showed me his toilet invention, which separates the faces from the urine from the get-go. And we inspected the large vats of urine he collects from his neighbors.

It was a very interesting tour. I’m just saying it was a little much before eating dinner.

Tear Technique: Malaysia

My buddy Rizwan demonstrated the tear technique for me. The key is to hold the edge of the chapatti-like tortilla with your pointer finger as you simultaneously tear a piece off with your thumb and middle finger. This is indeed the tricky one of the all! Holding the pointer finger, aka pivot finger, down is very important step.

By the way, here’s a video of my friend Angelina (and Riwan’s lovely new bride!) making a traditional Malaysia dish called Ayam Percik. It was good!

Can’t see this video? Click on Angelina makes Ayam Percik.

What other foods do you eat with your hands? And how did you learn?

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 7th, 2012 and is filed under Food & Drink.

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