From Hand to Mouth

From Hand to Mouth

The Euro Championship in football has started and the time shift robs me of my nighttime peace. That’s the peaceful period of the day that I usually like to spend writing. Fantastic, that the Lady of the house shows understanding and offered support with pen and paper.

Smiling insecurely our maid Geeta takes fork and spoon in her hands to eat her Spaghetti – most likely the first ones of her life. Almost admiringly she observes us handling our cutlery well experienced. For her it is not at all routine as she normally eats – like most of the people here in India – with her fingers. That on the other hand we find strange: Putting the meals into the mouth without any auxiliary means.

From Hand to Mouth - Eating with the fingers

A picnic on the riverside: Holding the banana-leaf with the left, grabbing the food with the right hand.

During our first stay in India I sometimes had „re-ordered“ the cuttlery as I felt inept and my eating experiments without cuttlery most likely counted for some exhilaration in my surroundings. Exactly this I now narrate to Geeta who tickles pink and meanwhile has almost finished her plate – with cutlery.

Eating without cutlery, only with the fingers? For you most likely a strange thought, and frankly speaking I can also hardly imagine that when it comes to German food. A sandwich, French fries or roasted chicken, yes, but everything and always? No, our food is definitely not qualifying. On the contrary, here most the dishes are literally made for that. The ingredients are always – regardless if vegetarian or non-vegetarian food – cut in such small pieces that you can comfortably place them in your mouth with your fingers. Rice is obligatory and qualifies like the Dhal – a stew made of pulses that is often used as gravy – perfectly for being eaten with the fingers.

When I was invited to our daughter’s school for Saraswati Puja the teachers had prepared Kijhuree for the guests – a mixture made of rice, dhal and vegetables. As I start eating with the spoon one of them tells me to use my fingers: „You will enjoy it more and it will taste you much better“, she says. I follow her advice and indeed it is really enjoying with all the senses. One can feel the consistency and the temperature of the food and it really tastes differently than when eating with a spoon.

Meanwhile it has become daily routine and a few days ago even our son has started eating independently, of course with his fingers. That after the meal the table, the floor and the little chap look like a mess was to be expected. And this is not at all bad, if you see how proud he is to have fed himself.

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