Dipping Into The Finger Bowl

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"I know someone who was once served a finger bowl in a restaurant and he thought he was supposed to drink it, so he squeezed the lemon and drank all of it" - I am sure we all have heard at least one of our friends say this and we have had a good laugh about it at one point or another. Every metropolitan or even a tier two city has a huge influx of people coming from different parts of the country, who are probably not exposed to the exotic fine dining scenes. While the concept of restaurants or the western definition of dining etiquette might be an alien concept to some of them, somethings like finger bowls perplex them to date. However, at the same time, not many of us know a lot about this sophisticated etiquette. Here are some interesting fun facts for you: Although a lemon slice is not mandatory, it is a customary part of the finger bowl. Lemon has anti-bacterial and germicidal traits, which frees the hands from unseen bacteria. It is also highly acidic, which helps remove the layer of oil from our hands. The lemon in the bowl is not to be touched, squeezed or eaten. Some restaurants even add a small scented flower to the bowl to make the entire experience more high-end and sophisticated. Like salad forks and French menus, finger bowls were once an extraordinary custom, sure to befuddle an average person. Finger bowls were typically used after the fruit course in a 6-course meal to avoid staining napkins with berry juices in earlier times. In modern day restaurants they are usually served with the dessert course. Proper dining etiquette dictate dipping no more than the tip of your finger in the finger bowl. The end of common use of the finger bowl in the U.S. was during World War I, when the U.S. Food Administration implored restaurants to do away with excess bone china, silver, and glassware. In the decade before their decline during the period of war, finger bowls and live music were used as competitive attractions to lure sophisticated gentry to a restaurant. Some modern-day restaurants, especially Japanese use freshly steamed and scented towels instead of the finger bowls to wipe the hands clean. While a lot of restaurants in India and abroad have stopped delighting us with an extra bowl of warm water with the dessert, we feel in a country like India where people have a penchant for using hands and a natural taste for oily and spicy food, finger bowls have a more important role to play than just being an old forgotten etiquette.