The other night, I took my son out to dinner at a local restaurant that serves Ethiopian food. I was excited because he had not eaten Ethiopian before and I had recently spent a month in
According to an article in The New York Times (Dining: January 17, 2012), some of the barriers to using hands to eat food in American restaurants may finally be starting to fall. Many upscale restaurants, and not just restaurants catering to African or Middle Eastern foods, are encouraging diners to dig in with their fingers. The idea is that eating with hands decreases the formality of eating, increases the likelihood that dining will be a social event, and heightens the diner’s connection to the food. While the restaurants still provide utensils, servers generally recommend the food is best eaten with hands and that no rules apply.
Interestingly, in many cultures where utensils are not used for eating, strict rules of etiquette, something American restaurants are trying to avoid, guide dining. A no-utensil approach to eating has made it all the way to the White House, if only barely. A state dinner for the Indian prime minister included a bread course consisting of naan, flat leavened bread, and corn bread with dips. As for me, I have no idea why people use a fork and knife to eat chicken or any other fowl on the bone. I am hoping that in the future I won’t get quite so many curious looks when I use my hands to nibble on a chicken thigh or scoop curries with bread or firm vegetables.Noted by WVR, MD
*This filler excerpt can be found in the May 2012 Pediatrics print journal p. 884, or via online here.