When in Rome..right?
My entire life I have been told not to eat with my hands. In fact learning how to eat "properly" as a plebe at West Point has scarred me for life.
So you can imagine my surprise as I have worked my way through Indonesia only to be told to eat with my hand (and instructed quite sternly, exactly how to do it, while in Sumatra).
Now first and foremost, in Indonesia, the left hand is considered unsanitary because it is used for cleaning oneself. So the right hand is used for everything else. For instance, you never wave to an Indonesian with your left hand as that is a sign of disrespect. You never, never eat with your left hand.
So one is to use the right hand to eat every meal. The meals usually include rice or noodles, chicken and a vegetable. It takes a while to learn this method so it actually looks "normal." I had a few tables near me watch with laughter as the owner of the restaurant showed me how to eat and specifically how to grab rice with my hand, use my thumb to mash it into the top of my fingers, and then how to place my fingers into my mouth.
It sure seems awkward and weird to me. My initial judgment is to view this way of eating as "uncivilized" because in my universe, it is considered uncivilized. But am I right? Who gets to decide what "civility" is when it comes to eating. In the universe of the Indonesians I was eating with, forks and knives are considered weird and uncivil.
This is yet another example of the relativity of the worlds each of us inhabits and that there oftentimes is no "right" or "wrong" way of doing things.