Eating with Hands

USE OF HAND INSTEAD OF KNIFE, FORK, OR SPOON In general it may be said that the Arabs in eating do not use knives, plates, or napkins which are considered so essential in the West. They say: "What does a man want of a spoon when GOD has given him so many fingers?" Sheets of bread, about as thick as heavy flannel; take the place of spoons or forks to some extent. A piece from this bread is broken off and shaped so as to put some of the food on it. They use this bread to scoop up any partially liquid dish, such as soups, sauces, or gravies. Each torn off piece of bread that thus serves as a spoon is eaten along with the food it contains. Meat is usually served in a single large dish and is eaten with the fingers. Broth is served in a separate dish and it is used to moisten the bread. This method of eating is actually not as untidy as might be supposed. The invitation Boaz gave to Ruth to eat with his workers, indicates that these same customs must have been in operation in those days: "And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar" (Ruth 2:14). And at the last supper JESUS said to His disciples, "He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me" (Matthew 26:23). Furthermore, He spoke of dipping a choice portion of the meat called the sop into the dish (John 13:26). More will be said of this under the section dealing with suppers and banquets. Suffice it to say, that most of the Oriental customs of today in regard to eating date back, not only to the days of our Saviour, but also to the Old Testament era. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

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