Cutlery, chopsticks, or hand?

What’s the most practical way to eat? The knife and fork are used in the West. Chopsticks in the East. The hand is used in Africa and the Middle East.

The hand seems like the obvious winner in terms of practicality and sanitation. You can be sure your hand is clean whereas you can only assume the silverware you’re using is.

Certain dishes like steaks or chops obviously require cutting with a knife and fork. That can be considered a specialty of the West.

Would it be best to phase out silverware and chopsticks in favor of the hand?

The comparison seems to be invalid.

You have to consider that the cuisine of each culture influences the cutlery used; and different cultures use different methods at the same time. Chinese would forgo the chopsticks and just use their hand for juicy chicken drumsticks, for example.

Middle-Eastern culture has dishes that are best eaten with hand. European culture has food best eaten with fork and knife, if you care about not getting your hand burnt.

So my question is - are you going to eat hot porridge with your hand?

Not so much for your dinner guests.

I would sip my hot porridge from the bowl were I not expected to use a spoon.

I mentioned regional dishes needing certain implements. The knife and fork for a steak, the skewer in a kabob, or a long fork for fondue are specialised.

I agree that the best utensil for a food is dictated by that individual food.

That said, not every culture gets it right all of the time. South Indians eat tend to eat rice and sauce with their hands, and the effect can be off-putting. Chinese people aren’t generally fond of eating anything with their hands, and when American fast food first came to China, they had to hand out plastic gloves- a practice that continues in some places that serve Western food. And of course, Europeans and American disagree about how to eat pizza. Chopsticks are great for most Chinese food, but there are some things so slippery that even Chinese people will put down the chopsticks.

Or tilt the bowl and shovel!

I’m kinda dubious about that, having seen the elaborate things Chinese people do to avoid touching any food at all with their hands - juggling hamburgers and napkins in McDonalds or sandwich shops or bakeries, the plastic gloves even sven mentioned above (which I saw first-hand on the opening day of Kunming’s first burger joint in 1995). In all the time I’ve spent in China, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chinese person deliberately touch food with their hands.

(On a parallel topic, I was surprised to learn that it’s acceptable in Japan to use one’s fingers to pick up sushi. What is the touching food taboo in Japan? How do they eat western food there?)

Sushi is one of the exceptions as most food is not eaten with fingers.

Western food is eaten either with chopsticks or knife and fork, although pizza slices can be eaten by hand. Japanese will sometimes eat french friend by hand (say at a fast food) or with chopsticks.

For any food that has been prepared in the “eastern” style I far prefer chopsticks - once you are used to them they just become an extension of fingers and its very easy to pick individual morsels from the bowl, bite them and put them back down.

Anything dim sum related would be the same -

For “western” dishes (i.e steak etc) knife and fork is fine.

For pizza and burgers (and barbeques) it is hands all the way.

For chopsticks, it’s not the food but how it’s served. Chopsticks work best for grabbing small items from family (community) plates while knife and fork work better for individual plates. With family style, it’s difficult to get the proper leverage to scoop/stab the food with forks while chopsticks are great at plucking.

I eat Chinese food with chopsticks every day, but when I’m at home I will still break out the fork, spoon, etc. We’re too used to making individual plates with the food.

Which is only a problem if people are feeding each other.

Hey, the food has to get out of the communal pot/bowl and onto your plate somehow… :eek:

Chopsticks are also great for things that have dipping sauce or for stuff that has a bone in the middle - hold the bone by the chopstick and nibble meat then put bone on plate :slight_smile:

I know everyone hates the French, but it sounds like the Japanese take it to a whole new level! :stuck_out_tongue:

My family came from the Chinese diaspora in Indonesia. We serve most food on a plate and eat with a spoon, which works pretty well most of the time. We do use chopsticks when eating noodles, though.

Perhaps I am more ‘westernised’, but yes, I was taught from young not to touch food with hand.

In India, people eat by hand, but food is served to your plate using serving spoons. And, traditionally, the person serving is not supposed to be eating. That’s why it’s very common for the lady of the house, in particular, to eat either before or after everyone else.

My Mexican SO mostly uses a tortilla. Not stuffed; he uses it as a scoop.

I find that french friend is far too unwieldy to eat with anything other than a knife and fork.

I’ve seen some of our Indian friends do the same with naan. This avoids having to use the fingers to eat rice-and-sauce. They are not Southern Indians, though … they are Gujarati speakers.

Thomas Becket: I’ve ordered a dozen forks

Henry IV: Forks? What are they?

TB: A devilish instrument. You use for pronging food into your mouth. It keeps your fingers clean.

Henry: But then you get the fork dirty

TB: Yes, but it’s washable.

Henry; So are your fingers. I don’t see the point

TB: It hasn’t any, practically speaking. But it’s very un-Norman…
… --Jean Anhouilh’s Becket