Wednesday, December 19, 2007


When it comes to eating food with utensils, I believe there's a natural progression of preferred utensil usage:

  • Plastic Utensils - These things are evil. Not only are the cheap ones manufactured in a way that actually can cut your mouth, but they can ruin a dining experience. It's well worth the effort to take a dirty fork from the dishwasher and wash it by hand.
  • Fork and Knife - There are many fine meals that require a fork and knife, but I like to be able to just dig in. I can't be bothered... all the effort detracts from the stuffing of the pie hole.
  • Fork - Now, we're getting somewhere. Lots of foods can be eaten with just a fork, think Indian Food (already in bite-sized pieces), Jambalaya, Paella, etc...
  • Spoon - Somehow the experience of eating with a spoon is preferable to a fork -- soups, chili, yum!
  • Hands - I'm embarrassed to say that I love eating with my hands. Somehow the food actually tastes better when you're going directly from hand to mouth. In the comforts of home, there are many foods (some that you would not expect) that can be enjoyed with your hands.
  • Build Your Own - Then there's the concept of the build-your-own foods. These are food that you put together (usually with your hands) at the table just before eating them. Somehow putting the ingredients together and stuffing your face makes the eating experience more rewarding.

Maybe my favorite of the build-your-own dishes is Bahn Hoi. If you've ever eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant, you've probably tried those fantastic rice paper roll appetizers (not fried). Often you can order a dish, sometimes called Bahn Hoi, which requires the building of your own rolls. Usually the dish comes with: rice papers, vermicelli noodles, nuac chom sauce, fresh Thai basil, cucumbers, lettuce, pickled cabbage and carrots, and meat (I like lemongrass beef).

Building the rolls themselves can be a bit of a pain, but is quite rewarding. First, you will need a bowl with warm water to be used to soften the rice papers. Dip the rice paper in the warm water, covering it completely. Let the paper sit on your plate as it softens. Then add the rest of the ingredients, pour on some nuac chom and enjoy -- eating with your hands, of course.

Here are some other yummy build-your-own foods:

Bahn Hio and Pho - Vietnamese
Moo Shu/Shi and Peking Duck - Chinese
Korean BarBQ - Korean
Shabu Shabu - Japanese
Fajitas - Mexican.... errr not really Mexican
Fondue - Swiss (see Dawn's earlier posting)

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