Eating with hands

There is something intrinsicly Malaysian about enjoying food with our hands. From banana leaf rice to nasi kerabu to nasi durian to putu mayam, eating with hands is what I believe distinguishes Malaysians from the rest of the world.

Nowhere else can you find people of so many different races in one place, partaking in cuisines from different cultures that can only be appreciated through the mashing, melding of palm and fingers.

Digging into a small mount of rice holding a crater of fish curry, peeling the freshly fried skin off a piece of kurau, licking the last remnants of durian off your fingers – eating with hands is no doubt a sensual exercise.

It is an art form as well, handling something as friable as rice with just the one hand (you’re not supposed to use two – it’s considered rude). Watching the experienced cutlery-less diner (such as Malay or Indian ladies having lunch at a local Malay stall I like to frequent) weave fingers through a plate of rice, chicken curry and spinach, serving food to mouth in graceful locomotion, can be fascinating (and not to mention the best advertisement a restaurant could have). Terrific way to get the gastric juices working.

What do YOU like to eat with your hands? Aside from the aforementioned for me, it’s:

1. Cake, especially moist chocolate cake!

2. Petai with sambal and rice – nothing like ‘fragrant’ petai on your fingers!

3. I like to mash roast chicken in mayonnaise with my hands for sandwiches – somehow, it tastses better in the end 🙂


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