If you normally eat with cutlery, there’s something liberating about eating with your hands. You get to really interact with your food, and you kind of feel like a little kid again! But in some parts of the world, eating with your hands isn’t just for a lazy night at home — it’s the norm and there are rules. Here is the proper way to eat with your hands around the world.

1. India: Wash your hands
Always wash your hands thoroughly before eating a meal in India. This should be obvious, but be even more vigorous about it than you normally would be before a meal. Never, ever put your fingers inside or even on your mouth during the meal.

2. Use the proper fingers
Only use your thumb and two first fingers to pick up your food and to push it into your mouth. If you make a small claw shape with those three fingers, you get the idea.

3. Eat with your right hand
If you’re left handed, this could be the best diet ever! You absolutely cannot touch the plate with your left hand in India. You always hold a small piece of flatbread like naan, roti or chapatti with your right hand, and scoop up food with that.

4. Don’t raise your plate
Never raise your plate towards your face—that’s considered rude since you’re bringing all the food close to a place full of germs. Instead, lower your head to get closer to your food.

5. Take small bites
Since you’re likely eating from a shared dish, it’s crucial that your fingers never touch the food. Remember: you’ll be using some sort of flat bread as a utensil. Scoop only small amounts of food into each piece of bread, to make sure your fingers never come close to the food.

6. Africa: Fufu
If you’re eating in many parts of West Africa, instead of flat bread, you’ll be using something called fufu as your utensil. Fufu is a malleable, doughy dish made from a root plant and formed into little balls. Since it is malleable, you can break off a piece from a large ball, make a dent in it to create a small bowl shape, and scoop your food. It is rude to eat with your left hand.

7. Dip your hands
Before the meal, you may have two water bowls placed in front of you. One is for you to rinse your hands before the meal, and the other is for rinsing after. These are not suggestions. Dip your hands in the bowls. The other diners will be watching.

8. Lick your fingers
Not during the meal, but feel free to lick your fingers when you’re all done eating! This is just your way of showing you loved the food.

9. The Middle East
Rules in the Middle East for eating with your hands are pretty much the same as other areas of the world, however it’s more important here to abide by the rules since you’ll almost certainly be eating from a large communal plate. You’ll be scooping the food up with pita bread here.

10. Stay on task
This may not be written anywhere but it’s an unspoken rule. Don’t do anything else with your hands except eat until the meal is done. Checking your phone or picking up a book could transfer germs to the food.

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