April 9, 2009

Of forks n knives..

Well, we all know that the fork goes on the left hand the butter knife on the right hand. At least that’s how they place it around your plate during a formal meal.  But I’ve never been able to eat that way. The logic behind this arrangement is that the knife would be in your natural hand (predominantly right) to have the strength to cut whatever it is that you were eating while the fork held it down and then once it was cut free, you could use the fork that was still holding it to directly put it in your mouth. Makes sense on paper (at least to me). But while trying out, I’ve always found it bizarre. I switch hands. I use the knife on the left hand to hold the food down while I tear it away using the fork with my right and put it in my mouth. I’ve attributed this to the fact that it’s widely taboo to use your left hand to eat food in India (and we’ve been taught so). Even still, many many people have been able to make the transition to formal dining with etiquette and get it right. I haven’t. Consequently, once the waiters see the cutlery reversed around my plate, they assume I am left-handed and place everything accordingly (the wine/water glasses will go to the left instead of the right, etc). It’s a very subtle change but I’ve been amazed that so many places in France in particular have noticed and attempted to make it “comfortable” for me. For that matter, how many people know how to use the many different types of forks/knives/spoons that are cluttered around your plate during a formal meal? For this one, I can say I do. :D

6 comments:

Ram said...

Even though I am a natural left hander, I eat the same way... but I think there maybe a slight factor of us being veggies and hence we don't need as much strength to cut our food as meat eaters would. Plus, for either kind of eater, the fork is obviously more used than the knife. But maybe the knife is to the right because most people start out by cutting their food (i.e. meat) before eating it. Actually, it just makes sense to have both on the right hand side ;)

The Muse ... said...

I reversed hands too - but as a matter of habit. After reading Ram's comment - I know why :).

Jaya said...

Bala-> Thanks for the insights. But that was sort of my point too... Our veggie/Hindu heritage instills it in us.

The muse -> Thanks for sharing n keep visiting!

karmanna said...

i tear the chappathis' with my both hands and all the fingers into smaller pieces and dip it in the sea of 'dal' or sambarrr..and then i swallow it out with both my hands within a few minutes..
then comes the fine movement...
i slowly lick my 'dal' coated fingers starting from little finger ..
balle ! balle !!

Monsal Varga said...

It's one of those things I never thought about... I was taught that way, people did it that way, and that's it...

Damn, now I'm gonna spend the rest of the day thinking about it! :D

I remember once a friend of mine, back in the good old days when I was in the university in Italy. She is from New York, and she talked about how we europeans hold the cigarretes, and eating like europeans, and the way women held their arms together, and so on - and I kept thinking "What? What is this european thing, I never saw it that way - what holding cigarretes?!... what the heck..." :D

I spent like two days thinking about it!

Jaya said...

Karmanna -> Bale bale...

Monsal -> I can imagine that this sounds like a vague experience to you... like what all does she analyze anyways. Lol. But that's the way of life here and wherever else you're taught. In India, we eat with our fingers :)

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