Today we take the humble spoon with a handle and a curved end for granted as the ‘typical’ way of eating food. But here is a list of bizarre and atypical ways in which people (not conditioned by the colonial spoon) eat their food, and have it too!
- The Paleolithic Spoon
Our Paleolithic ancestors lay down the foundation for the modern spoon we know today for consuming liquid food items, using sea shells connected to small wooden sticks and chips of wood, that transformed over time. Popular among the Greeks, Romans and Egyptian Pharaohs, the word spoon itself is the Anglo Saxon word for a chip of wood.
- Kuaizi chopsticks
Originating in imperial China over 9000 years ago, today it can be found in takeaway boxes of Chinese food even in the United States. Kuaizi is broken into ‘simple’ and ‘bamboo, while the English term chopstick came from Pidgin Chinese implying ‘chop chop’ or quickly. Eating with chopsticks is an art everyone South-eastern Asia has to master.
- Bamboo and Cane Cutlery
Found in abundance in North Eastern India, utensils for the locals involve chopping up a bamboo stalk in their backyard and carving an eco-friendly cup who believe in drinking straight from the cup, be it soup, tea, or even a fork and spoon.
- Coconut shell
Anybody who has stopped at a pile of tender coconuts on a roadside in Southern India must have eaten the coconut cream, or ganji in Kannada. A simple hack that coconut vendors use is to cut out a makeshift spoon for the customer from the shell of the coconut itself, an eco- friendly, disposable and economical solution.
- Eating with feet
This subversion of our general dining etiquette is actually an everyday practise for several self-reliant specially-abled people around the world. The 2012 a lady revealed that despite the lack of arms, she was capable of eating with chopsticks with the help of her feet, a feat (pun intended) that many of us fail to achieve with necessary faculties.
- Edible Cutlery
Pioneered by Narayana Peesapati, as an effort to reduce plastic waste generation, edible cutlery is eaten after the finishing of the meal, often made with flour, jowar, grains etc. and even cookie dough, so you first eat with it, and then eat it.
- Hybrid cutlery
This creation may make Imperial etiquette connoisseurs turn in their graves, but hybrid cutlery like sporfs (spoon, knife and fork), sporks (spoon and fork), spife(spoon and knife) or knork (knife and fork) are quite the rage today in terms of convenience.
- Rye grass
The history of the drinking straw began with the use of stalks of rye grass to pull up liquids, literally drinking from the ground up. The straw was revolutionized when Marvin Stone made one out of paper and glue, dissatisfied with the grass experience (not the illegal one, sorry to disappoint).
- With crackers
Be it with Italian antipasto, Mexican salsa, Middle-eastern hummus or Spanish tapas, crackers made of different flours and seasonings are a perpetual trend of eating food. It is known by different names in different cultures, papad, Pita, Crostini, taralli, nachos, sushka etc.
- Eating with hands
Popular tradition in the Indian and African subcontinent, the practice of eating food with hands has Vedic backing. Each finger in our hand is an extension of the five elements of life, and aids in the transformation of the food before it enters internal digestion and they bring all the five elements together to help in secretion of digestive juices.
So which part of the world we come from not only influences what we eat, but also how we eat it. In the globalised world with merging cultures, perhaps the humble spoon is what brings us together, after all.