What do you use to eat with, and are there any rules, where you live?
No. This is not a poll, but a series of observations and experiences gleaned from travels around the world, and even around Sri Lanka
Japan is simply fabulous. A bucket-list place to see, if ever there was one. But how do you keep your chopsticks after you've eaten? Escargot in France... do you use the snail fork first? Or the tongs? When is it okay to put a knife of food in your mouth?
Throughout history, we have been finding ways of getting food off the plate into our mouths one way or another, and these methods have all been determined by one thing: what the predominant food in the region is.
They eat a lot of rice in Japan, yet eating with your fingers in Japan is something you would never see. The simple reason why: Sri Lanka is a temperate country. In parts of Japan your fingers will get badly burned if you attempt to eat with them during winter, because they serve their dishes hot. So the Japanese used chopsticks, which were probably an invention of the Chinese.
Never keep your chopsticks facing the person across the table from you. Mistakes learned the hard way!
For us, in Tabrobane, Serendip, Ceylon and now Sri Lanka, our predominant food has always been rice. The best way to eat rice is with one's fingers and even this method of eating has its own traditions and histories. One should never have grains of rice on one's palms, after a meal.
Another one is that it's considered taboo to eat rice with your left hand. There is a very substantial list of things you should know about when eating rice with your fingers!
Most of the world eats rice. From China, through to the Middle East all the way unto the Mediterranean belt. Rice conquered the world by traveling on The Silk Road, thousands of years ago. It's interesting to see how rice traveled from the East to the West, and breads traveled from the West to the East.
Move to western food and before things like specialised cutlery raised their head, "inventions" ( not really sure if its the right word) such as pies, and pasties meant that some food types could be categorised as finger food. But then you had broths, gruels, porridges, stews and so on, that technically, you could dip bread in and eat if you were Oliver Twist, but meant that Mr. Brownlow was in trouble! The gentry had to have their stirling silver spoons. And they did. And cutlery made inroads through to the colonies. Suddenly, eating with your fingers was frowned upon.
Every little bit of the experience of enjoying a meal is fascinating. It's steeped in cultures and traditions the world over. Burp after a meal in UK and you'd be branded a lout. Don't burp after a meal in the Middle East and you'd be insulting your host. The list is endless so please, add your observations on the correct etiquette at the table from wherever you are in the comments section. It will make for an interesting read!
And the only time it's "ok" to put a knife in your mouth? When you've cut a mango, straight from the tree, and you're in a hurry to eat it.