When In Rome………..

I was in Bangalore or Bengaluru in the beginning of this month. Those who know me know that there are some things I can’t stand. A few of them are:

1)      Eating with hands. It should have been declared a crime the moment Knife, Fork and Spoons were invented.

2)      Making noises and talking while you eat.

3)      Dropping food on the table.

4)      Making a complete mess on the eating table.

On my last night my cousin took me to a Restaurant or a Darshini (Dhaba in Punjabi, I don’t know the Hindi or English equivalent) as they called. It was essentially an Andhra eatery, where I was brought to eat the Andhra Veg Thali (Note: I am a pure carnivore so a veg thali was a first for me) and savour the cuisine of the area.

Banana leaves were laid on the table. Narrow side was pointing to the left. I was told that the way the leaf is positioned is quite

Pickles and Gun Powder

important and it is considered bad table manners if you don’t do it properly. In Kerela the narrow side of the leaf points towards left.

Pickles and a powder called Gun Powder which is a mixture of fiery red chillies were kept beside the leaves. Sambhar, Rasam, Buttermilk, Curd and Chutney came in separate little personal bowls. This I was told will come once. Everything that will be put on the Banana leaf will be unlimited. On the Banana leaf they poured a dish called “Palak Dal”, a vegetable, onion chutney and a mountain of rice.

The other guests around me were eating with their hands. I asked for a spoon and the waiter looked at me as if I had said something blasphemous. In the mean while I received an SMS from Durga whom I had called earlier to enquire about Andhra food, that ‘Gulte’ food is meant to be eaten by hands. Combined with many more reasons and the fact that I didn’t want to disrespect the local culture, and as they say…..do as the Romans do, so I decided to break my rules once and dug in with my bare hands. Only the right hand. I was informed left hand is not used while eating. And I didn’t make a mess.

Thats the spread and it is my dirty hand you can see in the foreground.

The spoon came but it was too late. My fingers were already dirty. Well the food was good. It was spicy. Andhra food they say is supposed to be spicy. The amount of rice the people ate is mind blowing. I was hardly able to eat half of what the others finished. But then I am not much of a rice eater and we usually(99.99% of the times) eat wheat here. Buttermilk was good and so was the Palak Dal. We finished the dinner with a Gelato.

10 Responses to “When In Rome………..”
  1. Mayur says:

    1) Eating with hands. It should have been declared a crime the moment Knife, Fork and Spoons were invented. — Well I think thats the best thing on earth. Those who are ashamed of eating with hands should go and stay in UK

    2) Making noises and talking while you eat. — Ah! Nothing like enjoying a good day’s meal.

    3) Dropping food on the table. — Hmmm, it shows how you liked your food.

    4) Making a complete mess on the eating table. — Well!

    By the way how do you eat your tandoori roti and Chhole?

    • Prateek says:

      I might somehow agree with your first point, but not with the rest. There is a big difference between the culture in Military families and the Civilian families. Usage of knife and fork is taught and the table manners and basic etiquettes are western or rather British. And this is what I have been taught since the day I was born.
      And I can and I do eat stuffed paranthas etc with Knife and Fork.
      And I do tend to exaggerate things a bit when I write, just to give it a funny touch.

      But how does making noises while you eat show that you are enjoying? And will you drop food on the table to show that you liked it?

      • Mayur says:

        All I wanted to say was… ‘Big Deal!’ 🙂

        And yes by the way I like eating with my hands, and when you do that, dropping the food on the table becomes inevitable. Though I dont do it every where. 🙂

  2. durga says:

    shut up. Eating with hands your own food, is not making your hands dirty. Then don’t make you stomach dirty but storing, grinding and digesting it. 😐

    Atleast you liked the food . 😛

  3. delhizen says:

    I wish someone had clicked when you ate with hands… what a sight it must be 🙂

    I still remember how flabbergasted you were when you saw me eating a sandwich without fork and knife and were almost ready to walk off when a few crumbles fell on the table…

    When eating, one should enjoy the food not worry about how the other person is eating… btw eating with hands is part of our Indian culture its there in most regions… And moreover I think it is an art that the food stays on the leaf and does not dribble all over- try it a few more times till you perfect it !

    • snowleopard says:

      That was in CCD, 5th December 2009. We were going to KFC but it was too crowded. And you made me change tables twice. I still don’t kow what was wrong with the first seating position. Yeah I know, I have got a brilliant memory 🙂

      Agreed, eating with hands is part of Indian culture in most areas of the country. But as far as me trying it a few more times for the sake of practice……..now you are demanding too much from me. 😉 But there is an advantage…..you save a lot on cutlery and then later the number of utensils to be washed are less. 😛

      Actualy this was not my first time. I went to a Bengali house where they asked me to eat the Rohu Curry using my fingers. They said that it is meant to be eaten by hand along with rice and I did oblige. They did have fork and spoon but I decided to respect their request and tradition. Therefore the rules can be broken, but only on rare occasions. 😛

  4. Flix says:

    I’ve been living in a studio at the top of a boarding house.
    I have my own cooking and eating facilities but we have a communal kitchen that I used occasionally until the Bangladeshis moved in that is.
    These people certainly don’t believe in following the local customs, for that I can vouch. They eat with their hands and refused to use cutlery when I suggested that it was “our” custom.
    I find their custom disgusting, civilised man invented cutlery for several reasons the most important I believe is hygiene, a custom apparently not practised by these people.
    Food left all over the tables and the floor as well as the food preparation area. The sink is never cleaned and is so encrusted with filth that I wouldn’t wash my dog in it.
    The landlord refuses to act because he can jam 3 or 4 of these people into a room designed for 1 person and they’re willing to pay 50% more rent for the privilege.
    Saving on cutlery is hardly a valid justification when the spread of disease is the alternative.
    I could describe their habits in the bathroom but in today’s atmosphere of PC paranoia I’d run the risk of being labelled a racist.
    These aren’t just Urban Myths or here-say, I live with these people and witness this behaviour every day.

  5. Flix says:

    Is that how you deal with a dissenting point of view, Durga, you tell the person who dares to disagree with you to “shut up”?

    • durga says:

      haha FLix , I don’t think Patty took it other way around , but may be you did as my tone of conveying was not so right.
      See, We eat with hands, and use cutlery as well where ever needed and when we eat with hands, we make sure we wash our hands before we eat, and I am not sure why the people who moved into our place are not clean, but we were taught – cleanliness is nest to godliness and we wash up as soon as we eat. You need to see the Orthodox Indian families who don’t let any others into the kitchen when they cook or let untidy dishes stay around stinking.

      As far as the comment goes, I had a normal chat offiline conversation with patty and the comment was just a continuation of it. All it conveys was eating with hands is not disgusting as long as you are neat and clean while eating and complaining that some one else customs are not neat is not what a matured person deos, They rather prefer to eat with or not to eat with rather than complaining

  6. Magali says:

    Wow! I don’t think you’ll like me if you ever eat with me 😦

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