Traditionally, mansaf is consumed collectively from a large platter, where no more than 8 people stand around the “seder” and eat it by molding the rice into balls with their right hand while their left is placed behind their backs. According to many, the joy of mansaf is in this tradition- mansaf is to be eaten standing up, no plates, and no cutlery.
Naturally though, for many reasons ranging from extreme fafi-ness to the fact that we’re city-folks, in my family, mansaf is cooked with regular old yoghurt (mommy says that jameed makes the house reek like goats, and as much as I do love jameed, she is naturally quite correct), and more importantly, it is also always, always, always eaten the way we eat everything else- served with a serving spoon into each person’s dish and eaten with forks, spoons, and knives.
For my brothers, their lack of knowledge of the manners of eating mansaf the traditional way sometimes results in uncomfortable situations, because in a lot of instances, it is not very socially acceptable for men to eat it with utensils. To make it a hygienic experience, it also comes with its own list of “mansaf eating etiquette”, such as defining imaginary borders, always having your left hand behind your back, wiping off the rice on your other hand with a certain way and yadi yada yada. Like I also discovered, it is much harder to make little balls of rice with one hand than I would have thought.
For the past two weeks, not-very-fafi Moose has taken it to heart to teach my brothers how to eat mansaf the proper way. At first, I thought I’d learn along anyway especially as it is a legitimate excuse to play with my food. After getting told off for rolling the rice from hand to hand and being “uncivilized” with it, I decided to wallow in my fafiness and make use out of one of the few seemingly positive point of being a woman; I joined my aunts and ate from a different, untouched “seder”, served untraditionally with plates, spoons, and forks, and then finished quickly enough to go make fun of my brothers and snap a few pictures.