February 07, 2016

Use Your Hands: Traditional Filipino Way of Eating

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  • Use Your Hands: Traditional Filipino Way of Eating
  • Eating using your hands is generally frowned upon. Western cultures see it as being unhygienic, barbaric, and taboo. However, in certain Asian countries it’s a perfectly normal way of eating your food. This is especially true in the Philippines.

    Kamayan, or the act of eating food with your hands, is not only a practical way of eating your food (as it eliminates the need to clean spoons and forks), but also a good way of bonding with the locals. It breaks social boundaries, and is seen by most Filipinos as a better way of enjoying your food.

    It’s also good for enjoying anything that’s fried, broiled, grilled, or barbecued. Soups and stews are a challenge, but not impossible.


    “KAMAYAN”. Eating with your hands is seen by some Filipinos as the best way to enjoy your food.


    For the uninitiated and the hesitant eater, here’s a simple guide to eating with your hands:

    1. Gather up the rice in a small mound. Using whichever hand you use to hold a spoon, gather up the rice into a small mound. Use your fingers to do this. (Optional) Put a bite-size portion of whatever your viand is underneath the rice.

    2. Squeeze in, then press down. Using the same hand you used in step 1, squeeze your fingers together and press down on the mound of rice you’ve gathered. This makes it easier for you to do the next step.

    3. Lift and push. Lift your hand as soon as you’ve pressed down on the rice mound and bring it to your mouth. All that’s left is for you to open your mouth and push the food in with your thumb.


    Just follow these steps and hey, presto! You can now eat with your hands! But it doesn’t end there. Make sure you keep these things in mind when you eat with your hands:

    • Wash your hands thoroughly. It’s rather obvious, but since you will be using your hands, it’s best to wash them thoroughly. It’s customary for Filipinos to have a basin or pail of water close to or on the table if they plan on eating using their hands, so you don’t need to excuse yourself and go to the toilet beforehand. Don’t forget to do it after eating as well.

    • Never use your palms. It’s not practical, since you won’t be able to do much with your palms. You’ll also look like you haven’t eaten in days if you use your palms when you get your serving of rice and eat it off of your palm.

    • You don’t need both hands to eat. Your off-hand is normally used for holding your plate, bowl of soup, or glass of water. Trying to eat with both hands will only complicate things, so don’t even try it.



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