Finger Food

By Monica Bhide, "Finger Food," May/June 2011

Writer and cookbook author Monica Bhide's essay on eating with her hands.

The disdain on my guest's face radiated such strong contempt it could have made the yogurt on the dining room table curdle. Her arms were folded across her chest, her head tilted to one side and her eyes scrutinized my every move.

"You still eat with your hands?" she asked with much scorn as she watched me take a small piece of Indian griddle bread, dip it into a luscious red lentil curry and place it gently in my mouth.

Before I could answer, the tirade began. The speaker, a young Indian woman, was a friend. I would have forgiven the lecture about cleanliness, lack of culture, lack of table etiquette and my total disregard for eating "that way" in front of my children, if she too had not been of Indian origin. While I don't expect people from other cultures to comprehend why we do things a certain way, to have someone from your own ethnicity show such ignorance made my fingers crunch up into a fist.

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