07 September 2005

"Taste Buds Savoring the Food"

"My fingers, which a second before had been taste buds savoring the food a little ahead of my mouth..." From Life of Pi

This is the perfect description of eating with your fingers. I've eaten with my hands lots of times, but the experience described above doesn't happen very often for Americans. Fried chicken and corn on the cob are the closest I can think of.

But there have been two times that my fingers have been taste buds. One was in Jerusalem when we had maqlube. It's a rice and mutton dish that is usually eaten with the fingers. But it's more than just scooping rice into your mouth. There is a flair to it that has to be mastered.

The second time was in Idaho. A friend from Uzbekistan was staying with us for a few days and she made Osh plov for us. It is made from rice, carrots, onions, tomatoes, garlic, beef, and plenty of cumin. We sat down at the table with plates and forks, but then she mentioned that they usually ate Osh plov with their fingers, and of course, we tossed out the plates and forks.

That was one of the best meals I have ever had. Fotima tried in vain to teach us the best way of transporting the food to our mouths, but the trails of rice from the platter to our mouths showed that she didn't have much luck. There is something about the way your fingers are supposed to shape the rice and meat into a ball that lets them be part of the food.

I had Uzbek plov a few days ago at a restaurant in Bishkek. I ate it very neatly with a fork. It just wasn't the same.


  1. Fingers are a secondary sense for me! Almost everything I eat ends up being taken in by touch of fingers first.

    I would love to learn how to make Osh plov. It sounds delicious.

  2. I am currently taking a class on the senses! I think I need to visit, and have a meal like that. I am keenly aware of Ethan's inability to explore this universe the same way I do, and it has become important to me, to do my best, to see it through his "eyes".