Discovering the different utensils used by other cultures is one of the best parts about culinary exploration. One of the reasons I love eating Moroccan food is that you have to eat with your hands, which definitely fulfills a childhood dream of mine. However I find other utensils a lot more challenging, such as chopsticks. I believe you are either born with a chopstick gene, or you aren’t. Unfortunately I was not and I am forever one of those losers that has to ask for a fork with my teriyaki chicken.
There are so many different types of alternatives to the boring spoon, fork and knife ensemble, and I suggest you read on so that you can indulge in their use more often.
I forever associate sporks with cafeteria lunch in elementary school, but even this association doesn’t lessen their appeal. They are like the centaurs of the food word; half man, half beast; a majestic combination of fork and spoon. In a perfect world the utensil combination would not be limited to sporks, but extended to knorks (knife- forks). Now the spife (spoon-knife) already exists in the form of grapefruit cutting spoons but it doesn’t serve nearly as many purposes as its brother the spork.
As previously mentioned, I usually have to fasten my chopsticks together with a rubber band, like a preschooler, when eating sushi. They are the traditional utensils of Japan, China, Korea, Mongolia and Vietnam, so unfortunately I am eating impaired when it comes to many great cuisines. There are many rules of etiquette regarding chopsticks; most importantly, they should not be used to make noise, draw attention or to play with. Also chopsticks should not be left pointing vertically in a bowl or plate because this symbolizes death and is a funeral rite in many cultures.
Bread, Naan and Injera
Bread, naan and injera all fall in a similar category of utensils. However, the appropriateness of using them varies in each culture. Bread is a finger food cross culturally and it is not necessary to use any type of extra utensil when consuming it. Whether you are using bread as a vehicle to transport sandwich “fixins” or to soak up extra soup, using the bread itself as a utensil is almost always appropriate. In South Asian cultures, naan is used to scoop up foods in a luscious starchy envelope and transfer it to your mouth. Similarly, injera is used in Ethiopian cultures as a type of edible tablecloth. Once the injera is finished the meal is over, since it is the only utensil used to scoop up stews and sauces. All three foods are so great because they soak up all the flavors of the meals, to ensure no drop gets left behind. And lets all be honest with ourselves, edible utensils are always the best kind.
Let’s get real for a second, bacon is delicious and is used now in virtually everything from bacon gelato to bacon toothpaste. At Feastly, we encourage you to consider also using bacon as a vehicle to eat other dishes (ideally, also made with bacon). Get that bacon extra crispy and consider using two strips as chopsticks, or fashioning two pieces into a fork and knife using your trusty Swiss Army knife.
Hopefully this post has motivated you to try some alternatives to the usual utensil ensemble, not only when eating out, but also in your own home. I would love to attend a Feastly meal where we experiment with all of these creations, so hopefully someone feels inspired enough to create such a menu!