My wife and I are often mocked for preferring to eat food with cutlery most of the time, rather than our hands. Just as we get criticized for preferring bottled water. Or for not being able to sit cross-legged on the floor to eat. Somehow people think we are trying to show off our non-resident or now my ‘foreign-returned’ status.
Actually, when a couple lives alone and works at jobs with long and irregular hours, with no household help available, they tend to take a lot of shortcuts. Convenience and efficiency drive almost everything, cooking, washing and clearing especially. Time is of the essence. We can’t be cooking for an hour, eating for 10 minutes and washing and clearing for another hour! We just never have that kind of time! In case you are wondering, we hardly ever used the dishwasher either – too few vessels!
We didn’t use the dining table usually – we just threw everything into one bowl and ate in front of the TV with a spoon! In fact, we mostly made the kind of food that will need only a spoon. I sometimes suggested using disposables to my wife but that can become an expensive proposition. Over time, cooking and eating like that becomes a habit. I still do that at home in Bangalore, even though I have help now, who hardly ever has any vessels to wash because I don’t use many to eat and I wash them off myself. I hate to leave vessels in the sink, especially overnight. To be honest, we could afford to be like this because we didn’t have children. I am not sure such a spartan kitchen lifestyle will work if there are children to feed.
It’s not that I don’t use my hands to eat at all. It all depends on not only what kind of food and where. I really have no puritanical ideas about our ancient culture and stuff. I find nothing holy and sacred in the method of eating, or in most other things for that matter. Nor do I see anything stylish and high-society about eating with a spoon. It’s all a matter of convenience and suitability.
Oh yes, I do see to it that my way of eating, whether by spoon or hand, doesn’t disgust people around me! Which is also why I don’t look around the restaurant when eating!
PS: Incidentally, that bowl contains rice, rasam, cabbage curry and raw papaya curry!