We learn to use Arabic bread as a utensil from the day we’re born. I never thought about how freakin’ weird that is for non-Arabs until a short while ago, when a friend visiting the Arab world for the first time had a hard time having dinner with us.
It was really freakin’ weird for me, too. What do you mean you don’t know how to scoop that labaneh? No, you can’t eat zaatar with a fork – you must dip it in oil first then in zaatar. Shoving the bread in your mouth separately from the cheese really defeats the purpose of this whole dinner. Come on… it’s not THAT hard.
Of course, it makes sense… it’s like using chopsticks in East Asia. When I went to South Korea, I was totally awed by how Koreans can eat ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING with chopsticks, really fast. I mean, I’m really good with chopsticks, but you know, with regular food like sushi, noodles, or stir fry. I certainly can’t slurp my soup with chopsticks.
I guess it’s the same thing with Arabic bread?
As I was having my scooping breakfast of hummus this morning, I started wondering (and googling).
Do all Arabs scoop their food with bread, or is it something Levantine? Do any other cultures have similar eating habits? Is is actually harder than it seems to us, given that we were raised scooping? I didn’t find any interesting answers on the Internet, but I did find a blog with amazing illustrations of how to scoop bread. Looks hard, doesn’t it?
Googling images also shows that the Internet absolutely does not understand eating with Arabic bread.
Searching for “Dipping with pita”:
Searching for “Eating with pita”:
Searching for “Scooping with pita”:
The world is totally missing out. Must start a crusade to spread proper pita love.