Table Manners.

eating_rice_with_fingersMy lessons on table manners started when I was eight years old. I was gently but very firmly taught by my Theosophist aunt how to eat with my fingers without getting the palms soiled with food. I am serious. Here is a picture of someone trying to eat rice and curry off a plantain leaf using fingers. Try doing the same even from off a plate and see what agility you need to manage not getting the food on your palms, yet transport the stuff to your mouth and still feed yourself enough to enjoy a post lunch siesta.

What with that kind of training, when I was taught by some other less gentle souls to eat with my mouth closed and graduating to using forks, knives and spoons, were all cake walks.

tandoori chicken
That is a plate of Tandoori chicken. Can you imagine eating that with a fork and knife and enjoying the experience? Will it not be better to do it this way?

obama-eatingOr for that summer enjoyment, how can one enjoy eating mangoes without making a mess of one’s hands and face?

mango eatingFor all my readers who by now must be wondering what prompted me to write about this subject, let me not keep you in suspense.  This is what did it.

And dear reader, synchronicity strikes again.  I wrote this and kept it in draft form to return to it for editing.  I then went on my routine visits to other blogs and this one from Looney hit me hard. “The pig is an animal that eats anything and swallows with minimum chewing.  Elsewhere in the Bible, we see that this is a type of person who has no judgment, accepts ideas indiscriminately and his thinking becomes unclean.  The cow, however, is picky about what it eats and takes his time to chew, which symbolizes the pondering of a decent person on good lessons.”

So, simply stated, it all boils down to the narrowing of choices between eating like a pig or a cow.

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23 Responses to Table Manners.

  1. Delirious says:

    Wait, what did you say? I’m still sitting here staring at the Tandoori chicken and drooling……
    Delirious recently posted..Memories of May

  2. Looney says:

    In the interest of full disclosure, I was born in the year of the Pig.

    My main challenge is fully chewing and swallowing a bite before inserting the next bite into my mouth. Ideally three or four bites should already be lined up in a staging area of my plate. It is incomprehensible to me how someone might take a bite, put the fork down, and then slowly chew and swallow prior to picking the fork up again.
    Looney recently posted..Future Directions

    • Ursula says:

      You Pig, Looney “four bites … already lined up”? You are not in a hurry by any chance? I too never put my fork down between morsels unless I raise my glass neither do I have any idea how fast or slowly. I savour. I just enjoy. And I do hope, so will you. And whatever you do, Looney, or I’ll mark you down: Do not hold your knife like a pencil. It’s sacrilege. If you’d like lessons in how to hold it properly – with maximum impact as, no doubt, of interest to the engineer in you – please let me know. As long as you don’t stipulate that said lesson is in Hebrew.

      Other than that: How to break into a boiled egg?

      Ursula recently posted..Leftovers

    • And I the goat.

      I had to learn to chew and swallow!

  3. Ursula says:

    My verdict? Pretenious shit. No, not your post, Ramana, the article. I could spit at it: There is no correlation between enjoyment of food and manners. Good or bad.

    Practicalities first: A HUNGRY child wants to eat, not build sculptures of peas cemented with mashed potatoes. But then maybe those yummy mummys’ kids never go hungry from one meal to another.

    What a right little gourmet she’ll be in years to come. One who enjoys her food cold, or at least tepid, after all that messing around. Food is for playing with only in the kitchen – by the cook. Before it’s served. End of story. Unless faced with one of those letter soups. Then yes, by all means, let your child show you it can spell ‘literacy’. Great achievement.

    Raspberries as substitute lipstick, at the table, at age SEVEN? Sweetheart, Darling, do go and use the real thing (your mummy’s lipsticks). I am sure she won’t mind. And, whilst you are at it, please do tell your mother that you wish you weren’t as coquettish as her: “Mummy, you do know, I wouldn’t do this at a restaurant.” How reassuring. So she knows it’s wrong. Still, there was a time when parents let their toddlers smear paint over their freshly decorated walls. Wonder what’s become of all those little Jackson Pollocks NOT in the making.

    As to manners: They are important. Age appropriate. Part of socialization: Few like to sit opposite someone (at whatever age) who talk with their mouth full. There is a saying where I come from, loosely translated: “What little Henry hasn’t learnt, grown up Henry most likely won’t.” It’s not an absolute in my book, but pretty close to my experience.

    And now to something much more interesting, your post:

    Eating with fingers, Ramana? Absolutely. The joy of it. Picking at a chicken drumstick with knife and fork is more likely to send it across the table or, and what a waste, not being gnawed to the bone. Mango, admittedly, I only eat in the privacy of my own company. I don’t want to give anyone the idea that I am up for grabs just because juice is dribbling down my chin, and my hands are all sticky.

    Ursula recently posted..Leftovers

    • There are simply occasions and dishes where I would like to be alone to eat and enjoy myself. In company many things that one can do, cannot be done to really relish the experience.

  4. wisewebwoman says:

    I was taught how to eat in the Indian way by friends and loved it. it is an art not appreciated by many.

    I am consistently appalled by people with awful table manners. shovelling it in, speaking with mouths full for the world to peruse or be sprayed at, not waiting for everyone to start at the same time, etc. Table manners are respectful of others and most of all for oneself.

    wisewebwoman recently posted..Elder Project

    • WWW, On three occasions, I was taken out to lunch as part of the interviewing processes in the selection of candidates for jobs and I flopped in two but got through with flying colours in the third. When I started to be on the recruiting side, I did away with the practice.

  5. bikehikebabe says:

    I’m not going to read this post, until I make my comment. I was taught table manners of course. We Americans put our knife down & switch the fork to the right hand, take a bite, & switch back to knife in right hand, with fork in left to hold down while cutting. Back/forth, back/forth. The Europeans keep the knife in right hand, fork in left always & eat like that. No switchero. I see the Swedes doing that, but I have SUCH a habit. I gave up. Now I mainly eat with my fingers. Wash my hands when I’m through. I was doing that before I saw Indians doing it.

  6. Grannymar says:

    We had fingers long before cutlery and there is a time and place for using both. Eating food with the mouth closed and not talking while the mouth is full, are basic common manners. People who hog the serving dishes and forget to pass them down the table bug me.
    Grannymar recently posted..Old Oak

  7. nick says:

    If it’s virtually impossible to eat food with your fingers without making a terrible mess and getting the food everywhere, why bother? The whole point of cutlery is to make eating easier. Eating food shouldn’t be an obstacle race, it should be a pleasure.
    nick recently posted..Forced to love

    • I agree. I would not dare consume soup with my hands but would certainly drink it off a bowl like the Chinese do. They use spoons too for soups whereas we use rice or roti to blot up liquid stuff.

  8. How funny! You know, we see ourselves as being so cultured, but there are many places in the world where even if you have a fork and spoon available it’s considered smarter to use one’s hands or just pick up the bowl & drink from it. Course, me being me I have moods where I won’t touch food, so that chicken above… I’m probably fork & knifing it. lol
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted..Talking Social Media With Joanne DelBalso

  9. Big John says:

    ‘She who must be obeyed’ uses a knife and fork for everything including pizza !
    Big John recently posted..“Another ‘DAY’, another dollar” !

  10. Shirl says:

    Some food just taste so much better when you use your fingers. Back to table manners, I think it’s very important that kids learn mannners at an early age.

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