Utensils for Eating around the world
[ back to food index ]
Depending on where you travel, you may find yourself using fingers, chopsticks, knives, forks or spoons or a combnation of these to eat. Each region has developed traditions for the use of utensils over many generations. Knowing the correct etiquette for dining table manners in certain countries will place you in good stead with the locals.
Fingers are the main utensil used in India. Only the right hand is used as the left is used for cleaning yourself and is considered dirty. The fingers are used to mix the curries with the rice, and then to pick up and scoop the food into the mouth. Flat bread is also be used to soak up or encapsulate the food for placing in the mouth. As you get further north forks and spoons are used more often, especially in tourist restaurants.
Cutlery; the spoon and fork are used to eat most meals, except noodle soup which is eaten with chopsticks and a typical Asian flat-bottom soup spoon. The spoon and fork are not used in the conventional western manner; the spoon is used for putting food in the mouth while the fork is used for cutting and shoveling. It seems strange to Thai people if you put the fork in your mouth!
The custom in the USA when eating with a knife and fork differs from elsewhere where these tools are also used. When cutting up their food, the fork is held in the left, and the knife in the right, though when they go to eat they switch the fork to the right hand. This is said to be following a tradition from the pioneering days when knives were in short supply. Everyone would cut up their food, then pass on the knife to the next person, before eating away with the fork that remained.
Cambodia & Laos
A spoon and fork are used to eat most meals, the exception is that chopsticks are used with noodle soup. However the spoon and fork are not used in the conventional western manner - the spoon is used for putting food in the mouth while the fork is used for cutting and shoveling. Cutlery is served at the table in a half glass of boiling water - to sterilize them I suppose.
Of course, when eating spiders you can only use your hands!