Does it sound like a bad word? It’s not. It’s Ilocano for eating with your hands. There are certain dishes that just beg to be eaten with your bare hands. Inihaw na isda, pritong isda, dinengdeng, pinakbet, adobo, sinigang na hipon, kilawin, fresh seaweed salads, fern salads, roasted eggplant salads, anything guinataan or anything you can get your hands on….
And please, it’s not a savage practice of uncivilized people. It’s an art you have to learn. Besides, it’s fun! I mean… it really is. No Pinoy picnic would be the same if they handed you a silver spoon, fork and knife. Besides, you tend to lose all sense of inhibition when you’re sitting fully-clothed on a creekbed with graceful bamboo leaves swaying over you and the bamboo table you’re eating from virtually floating over the gentle, streaming water. Not to worry, the guys would have tied it down to something. The food is staying on the table….but not for long.
Not only is it fun, but eating with your hands takes a lot of skill. You don’t just moosh things in your palms and shove them into your mouth. Actually, you only use your fingers when eating with your hands. Oh gee, that sounds sooo NOT right…but it’s true! You pick up your food using your fingertips and scoop it up, not in your palms, but on the very tips of your fingers.
The ultimate in skill is eating a whole fried or grilled fish (yes, with the head on) with rice and other dishes one-handed….with no problem separating the flesh from the bones mind you. If that isn’t what you call skill, I don’t know what is..
See….you have to keep one hand clean so you can use the serving spoons for the other dishes on the table….or do something else like pick up the abaniko (Filipino leaf fans) and drive away the flies hovering around attempting to share your food….or some other things youneed to do at picnics in the Philippines.