Eating without utensils

When I moved to Korea, I learned how to eat with chopsticks, the stainless steal, Korean style chopsticks. Before that, I thought I knew how to eat with chopsticks, but I’d never had to do it day to day, certainly not with those Korean ones.

A few months before I moved to Saudi Arabia, I looked into their eating utensils. Do they use chopsticks at all in the Middle East? I wondered. I didn’t know.

Just a day or two into living here, though, I realized what my next challenge would be: eating without any utensils at all.

I’d done this a few times before. I’d eaten Indian food with just my hands on a couple different occasions, and of course Americans love things like hamburgers, French fries, pizza, fried chicken, and bacon, all finger foods.

Just a day or two into living in Saudi, though, I encountered more Indian food than I’d ever seen in my life plus the added bonus of Pakistani food, which I’d never even tried before. And since I’m in Saudi, it’s (almost) all served without utensils.

The first challenge is tearing bread with one hand. From what I understand, you’re not supposed to eat with your left hand at all, so it can take some practice to get used to tearing with one hand. I’ve seen some Indians and Pakistanis tear the first piece of bread with both hands, but I’ve been trying to keep my left hand out of it completely, the whole time.

Other than that, one food in particular kind of threw me: rice. Rice is my favorite food, but, of all the foods, it’s the one I didn’t have any experience eating with my fingers.

I’d heard how to scoop rice into a kind of ball in my three fingers, using my thumb to push the rice from behind into my mouth. It’s one thing to hear how to do it and another to actually live that way.

But that’s what I’ve been doing, practicing anyway. It’s definitely a learning process. And that’s why I enjoy it.

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