Learning how to eat

Today during the Iftar (so called the meal that breaks the fast) looked at the table and I could not help to remember the very first time I shared the table here in Egypt … I offered myself to help of course, so they told me to “set the table.” So I went to the kitchen and did what any Westerner would do: Ask yourself “How many are we?” and based on that, carry few dishes, forks, knives and glasses are necessary … (I had difficulty to find all the forks and knives but i didn’t care).

When I went with the things I began to place them on the table. An expectant hush came over everyone, until someone smile… which turned into a laugh amplified …Conclusion? It is eaten with the hand … and if necessary use a spoon or fork should be with the right hand.

I find it strange. Not that this is its usual, but do it myself ???… As a child I had thought never eat using my hands. My mother was a woman who was eating with the hand only Sandwich crumb. Mouth closed, napkin in your lap,  the glass is served untill half, do not eat everything in one bite … So I was polite and since i was little girl that had been my habit. But I realized that, far from good manners or whatever you call it, was rather a determinant factor, and it was going to turn against me, so I decided to forget everything I had learned …

Thanks to pretend to “know nothing” I became an expert in eat chicken with hands only (literally), remove the entire backbone of the fish to eat and use pieces of bread like a “spoon” to carry  tahini, salad, eggplant…

Of course, if you go to a restaurant you have access to the “knife and fork” , do not panic 🙂 But if they invite you to share the table in a house: “forget the manners ” … (And often “forget the table”, eat in the carpet is part of the usual and folklore of these places …)

That’s so different! … how strange! … All these impressions I left behind.

They had food that I had sworn never to try … My father used to said: “Never say from this water I will never drink” How right he was … there are things that I had sworn not to try… today are on my list of favorites 🙂

Yet I consider three important points in terms of what you eat :

  1. The digestive system suffers a lot when you change the water. There are “bacteria” that you are not used to. It’s hard to drink the water from another country: High fever, diarrhea, vomiting and being immobilized in bed invoking all the saints was something that happened to me often throughout my first quarter of year here in Egypt … Now I drink tap water without any problem but many people warned me if I return to Argentina to not drink the water. I am prone to some kind of intoxication similar because these are not my bacteria anymore. Tip: Water from the tap “refrain.” Wash thoroughly with water and vinegar, fruits and vegetables. If there’s something you’re not going to eat, keep in the refrigerator, do not leave food out for no reason …
  2. The palate is the first thing that suffers being away … You may like or not the food from the outside but you’ll always want to eat some dish from your country… And I have bad news for those who are outside and maybe have not heard, “If you try to cook something of your country on foreign soil, in the end it will have the taste of the ground that you are standing on…” Or when you will eat it will not be the same…
  3. THERE IS NO MEAT LIKE THE MEAT FROM ARGENTINA. I Don’t want to disparage or speak ill about the Egyptian meat, but has nothing to do next to a good Argentine chorizo steak .

Returning to the topic…I conclude that, even primitive, eat with the hand it’s tasty …Many people are going to call me crazy… but for me it’s true.  We are used to sense the food in our mouth not in our hands … to wash hands before eating, not after … But if you can get rid of “what you know” and pretend that you “know nothing” you may be surprised, very much, about the degree of adaptation that you can get … It’s all in good will and intention of each one. When you are in another place it’s you who must to adapt to the place … is not expected that the place “suits” on you … It’s not easy, but everything easy starts with some difficulty  .

… The food was exquisite, now a quick sip of fresh water … Alhamdullah!

Magda Monti


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