I remember my friend’s story. She has a friend who has a foreign friend. The foreign friend of her friend came to Indonesia and very shocking when saw Indonesian using hand to eat. Not spoon, fork or knife or chopstick, only hand.
Yes, Indonesian people use their right hand to eat. It’s their culture and tradition. They wash their hand before eating of course. The feeling of using hand when eating is good. You should try it. You can find Indonesian eating with hand in many restaurant here, specially restaurant with traditional food menu and several fast food restaurant. How if Indonesian eat soup, do they use hand too? No, they use spoon.
Spoon, fork and chopstick are very popular among Indonesian. At their home, they can eat with hand, spoon, fork and chopstick according to what they eat. Knife is not too popular as spoon and fork in here at their home (except for cooking). But in a restaurant with steak menu, they will use knife and fork as western people do.
In meal time, the food are served in a big plate and stored in the middle of table. The plate can be more than one. It can be vegetable soup, fried chicken, or fish or rice. So everyone can take the food from that big plate to their own plate.
How if you want that last fried chicken on that big plate? If you want it, you should ask everybody there, whether anyone want that fried chicken or not. If no one want to eat that last piece, you can take that last piece of yummy fried chicken. but if there is someone want that last piece, you should divide the food into 2 pieces, for example, or if you are too kind, you can give it to him/her. This is what we called politeness and the art of sharing.
When you are dining out with Indonesian in here, and the waiter do not serve the food at the same time, Indonesian will wait until all the food out so that everyone can eat together. It’s also a form of politeness. Indonesian usually said “bon appetite” before beginning to eat.
How if you are really starving to death, and your food (spaghetti) already in front of you for 15 minutes, but your Indonesian friend’s food has not out yet? can you eat first? yes you can, but you have to ask everyone. For example : “may i eat first? i am very starving”. Usually the answer is “Yes”.
In Indonesia, burp while eating is not polite.
Don’t be surprised when you see your Indonesian friend taste food of her/his friend. it’s very common if the relationship between them is very close.
for example, you dine out with you Indonesian friend. Her name is Yulia. Yulia bring her best friends Tasya (female) and Rigil (male). In a restaurant you order fried rice, Yulia orders spaghetti, Tasya orders “Lontong Kari”, and Rigill orders “Soto ayam”. Suddenly you hear Yulia want to taste “Lontong Kari” of Tasya. She put her spoon on Tasya food and taste the food. and Tasya taste Yulia’s food. The Rigil want to taste Tasya Food too, then he put his spoon on the bowl and taste it. After tasting Tasya’s food, Yulia also taste Ragil’s food. It’s common among Indonesian doing that, with notes “very close relationship”.
I hope this information will help you when you come and stay in Indonesia 🙂