Indonesian Culture: The Proper Use of Knife, Fork, Spoon and Hand

The other day I was staying up late watching YouTube. No, I wasn’t watching Taylor Swift’s videos or cat vines. I was actually spending hours watching videos about Indonesia. Initially, I was watching about how to cook rendang but since it’s YouTube, the clicking spree happened. I ended up being bombarded with footages of vloggers talking about Jakarta, Australian cooking shows about Indonesian food and weird Indonesian parodies. Then, I ran into a video that piqued my interest.

It’s just a normal day-to-day tradition. However, since I’m currently staying in a country with a completely different culture, I can’t help but think about it.

In my last article, I wrote about the Top 5 Must Try Indonesian Dishes. When you go to an authentic Indonesian restaurant, not the ritzy bistro kind where they serve you dishes on tiny plates. No… not that one. I am talking about the real deal. The kind where you have to sit on the floor or a bench. You are then faced with the two inevitable options: A knife and a fork, or just your hands. It can be a bit confusing at times.


The trick I recommend to everyone is to observe your surroundings. If there are even only two people eating with their hands, then you could take that as a green light. Though, generally speaking, you are free to do as you please. Eating utensils came along with our history of colonisation and other factors such as cultural assimilation. You could say that before the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish or the Chinese traders, we didn’t really know or care about fork, spoons or chopsticks. Our ancestors just used their hands. Eating with your hands is fun, so just dig in.


[Bahasa Indonesia]

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