Why Eating With Hands Isn’t Okay According to Etiquette Expert

Should Asians Stop Eating With Hands? An Etiquette Expert Thinks So

His other British etiquette tips include telling men to avoid borrowing money from a lady and only opening letters with a letter opener, never with fingers.

Southeast Asians may have grown accustomed to the belief that eating with hands is purely a local thing. In reality, Indians do it, too. So do the Nepalese, Arabs, Tanzanians, and Ethiopians. If eating burgers and barbecued meat without utensils fits the bill, then you can even put North Americans in the mix. The bottom line is that hand-to-mouth eating is considered normal in many parts of the world. But is it enough reason to keep doing it? One public figure doesn’t think so.

Also read: 8 Most Insensitive Things Travellers Do During a Global Pandemic

Why eating with hands isn’t okay, according to an etiquette expert

On 6 Mar 2021, a Twitter user that goes by the name of The Royal Butler (@TheRoyalButler) made rounds on social media after tweeting a photo presumably showing him or someone eating rice with a fork and knife. Allow me to repeat that — fork and knife. The post was captioned, “Ladies and gentlemen, remember we always use a knife and fork or chopsticks to eat rice! We do not use our hands or fingers!”

The Royal Butler, known in real life as Grant Harrold, is an etiquette expert in Britain, who’s also a local broadcaster, royal commentator, royal aide, and the former butler to Princes Charles, William, and Harry. We also went ahead and checked his official website, where it’s mentioned that Harrold has worked alongside many other royals, VIPs, and celebrities for at least 23 years.

Actual photo tweeted by Grant Harrold | Image credit: The Royal Butler

Although he failed to mention the reason behind his tweet, it looks like there’s no fooling around on Harrold’s part. His background in promoting and practising etiquette would be enough to support this. He also added later on that he was merely referring to British etiquette training. And, that his advice does not apply to other cultures around the world.

Also read: Why You Shouldn’t Be Ashamed Of Eating In Fast Food Restaurants Abroad

Why eating with hands is okay, according to the rest of Twitter

Still, Twitter users didn’t seem to take Harrold’s tweet well. While some blasted Harrold for his own British etiquette lapses, others downright defended the deed of eating with hands for sensible reasons. Here are some of the best responses from netizens explaining why it’s perfectly acceptable to do so. We’ve edited a few of the answers for clarity purposes.

  1. Why get racist on eating with hands? Eating with clean hands isn’t only a cultural thing but it’s got a scientific basis, too. The feel of hotness and texture stimulates appetite centres in the brain and prevents thermal injuries to the mouth. – @tikooa
  2. If your etiquette teaches you to make fun of someone’s culture, then there is a need to improve your etiquette. – @Mediocre_saying
  3. Normal flora is bacteria found on the palms and fingers that protects the skin and body from harmful microbes in the environment. Ingesting this helps keep several areas of the body healthy and improve digestion. Eating with hands can also prevent overeating. We tend to eat less. – @captpillay
  4. I’ve seen lots of British eating chips, burgers, or sandwiches in public without washing their hands. Some of them aren’t taught that you should wash your hands before and after meals. We Asian, on the contrary, are more hygienic than some of them. – @azvinl
  5. When you are eating food with a spoon or a fork, you can smell it and taste it, but when eating food with our hands, then we can actually feel the texture of the food and enjoy it, further stimulating the digestive system. – @Priyamvada22S
  6. Every food has its own customary way of eating! Most Indian foods, especially rice, don’t come right with a fork or spoon. It would end up grating the plate and jarring the ears. – @NTanjore
  7. People out there are dying with no food. The least we need right now is someone wanting to change others’ eating habits. Instead, we should start focusing more on helping others. – @Virginia__Ann
  8. The rice plant is indigenous to Africa and Asia, therefore Europeans don’t get to dictate how it’s eaten. Please focus on rye and barley, leave us to eat how we want to. – @DarkoLewis

Whether one agrees with the British etiquette expert or not, one thing that’s clear is his undeniable, and for many, overbearing passion for rules of behaviour. At the moment, he also trains butlers and housekeepers in the United Kingdom and worldwide. His other British etiquette tips include telling men to avoid borrowing money from a lady and only opening letters with a letter opener, never with fingers.


Featured image credit: Abrar Alnasheet | Wikimedia Commons

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Joser Ferreras
Joser Ferreras

Joser writes about travel, people, and business. A former researcher, he wants to debunk the old saying 'write what you know' by acknowledging that good content is also the outcome of one's openness to learn something new.

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