Food is defined by Maslow as one of the basic physiological needs, the remaining four being air, water, sex and shelter. Food is something that segregates people and at the same time also binds them. Let us understand this by the means of an example, if you travel across south-east Asia there is a difference between the Chinese, the Indian and the Thai palettes but there are a few ingredients which are common to all three like green chillies, black pepper, meat, milk-based products etc. Thus food is one such thing that segregates people and also connects them across boundaries.
Everybody has their way of eating food while the middle eastern people never make use of their left hand while trying to eat food because the left hand is used for unclean activities like eliminating waste and also cleaning the surroundings whereas in Thailand it is considered rude to push your food into your mouth with the help of a fork.
But while we are talking about Indian food Indians do not prefer to make use of any additional cutlery while trying to place a morsel into their mouths. A food blogger who had recently visited a popular Indian restaurant in Cranbourne explains “Indian cuisine was traditionally always served in a Banana or a palm leaf, especially in South India the prime reason being leaves were easy to dispose of, added a subtle flavour to the food and also contained enzymes that aided in digestion and killed harmful bacteria.”
The second reason for using the banana leaf was that the user leaves after having the leftovers of curries, pickles and gravy bases, the cow thus relished and rejoiced the same and the common folk reaped the benefits in the form of milk and milk products.
WHY DID INDIANS DISCONTINUE EATING WITH THEIR HANDS??
- The advent of Industrialization saw a lot of steel and manufacturing industries venture into the Indian space, there was also a lot of deforestation to set up new factories and commercial establishments hence it was difficult to search for banana leaves.
- Secondly, the imperialism bought about by the British raj had a lot of influence on Indian Folklore there was an increase in the number of Anglo Indians hence the banana leaf was lost somewhere.
IS THERE A SCIENCE BEHIND EATING WITH YOUR HANDS?
- A popular Indian Restaurant in Sydney that has been educating its consumers on eating Indian food with Hands explained “ When an individual eats with our hands we are eating consciously, we are more aware of the food that we are eating and hence we might not overeat or underfeed ourselves.”
- Ayurveda explains the hand is a representation of the five elements of nature which is fire, water, air, earth and ether when we eat with our hands we are putting the energies of the elements into our stomach and thus preventing any kind of mishap like indigestion, constipation and bloating.
Thus the next time you think of Indian food, don’t look for cutlery, please make proper use of your hands.