OSHI BURI

…are the wet hot towels handed out in Japanese restaurants…

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have to admit, to eat certain food with the fingers can enhance the enjoyment. I myself do not eat oysters with a fork; I slurp each from its shell. It tastes better this way. Spears of Romaine, celery sticks, carrot sticks, can be eaten with a fork, I guess. Still, I never would do such. I use my fingers instead

OSHI BURI
Oshi Buris are the wet hot towels handed out in Japanese restaurants. I like the idea. Not only are these towels refreshing and cleansing, there is also a ritual to it. The offered towels provide the feeling that the people, who own the restaurant, care about the individual guest’s well-being and cleanliness. Don’t expect to get this kind of treatment in cheap hotels!
Nowadays very few dinner guests wash their hands before they join others at the table to eat. They are obviously not accustomed to such and I am sure it has nothing to do with the drought out here in California. The custom to wash one’s hands before any meal had been standard practice for the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. These had servants who poured water over the guests’ hands before, during and after the mealtime. “I eat with knife and fork!” might be a good enough reason to eliminate the need for washing one’s hands? However only a small percentage of people eat hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob or chicken-wings with a knife and fork. Finger food items may also include frog-legs, artichokes and whole crab or lobster. Pork-chops, lamb-chops or veal-chops do not have to be picked up with the fingers, but some guest do.
I have to admit, to eat certain food with the fingers can enhance the enjoyment. I myself do not eat oysters with a fork; I slurp each from its shell. You will see guests at seafood restaurants in New Orleans hotels using this technique as well. It tastes better this way. Spears of Romaine, celery sticks, carrot sticks, can be eaten with a fork, I guess. Still, I never would do such. I use my fingers instead. The same with canapés, hors d’oeuvres looking like open face sandwiches, they too could be eaten with a fork, but nobody would do such.
Now let us look at the many people who eat their food, including fast-food with their fingers. They might as well lick the mustard, ketchup or other drippings from their fingers too. Why not? It’s part of enjoying the food, the finger licking.
Where I work, we do not use Japanese style rolled up steamed washcloths. But whenever I see a guest eating his food with his hands, I automatically bring him a finger bowl, so he may wash his hands with the lemon in the provided warm water.

by helmut schonwalder