The traditional south Indian cuisine consists of food placed on a cut banana leaf and people generally have their meals sitting on the ground and eating the food with their Hands.
To this day, most people even at offices and homes eat with their hands, though the banana leaves are gone. Only really formal and city bred folk use spoons and even then, forks and knives are just not needed for our diet which mainly consists of rice.
As I moved to Canada, the difference in dining table etiquette did hit me but not to a great extent. I was constantly in a student community and the university free food was generally pizza which we conveniently gobbled up with our hands. I mostly visited Indian/Thai restaurants and my student budget barely allowed me to visit the posh places. Basically I never cared much about table manners of the western world and conveniently cruised through life without paying great attention to it.
Then I came to the Netherlands. Enter - Formal dinners, office colleagues, people eating pizza with fork and knife situations. God, was I in a mess. The first formal dinner at TU/e will perhaps haunt me for few years. I was as it is nervous, as I always am in such formal places and I was new to the place and barely knew anybody. I was dreading how I was to get through the night, when they served me with spaghetti. I nervously announced that I am not particularly handy with the knife and fork. That perhaps was not the smartest thing to do. I could instantly feel all the eyes on me. My Italian colleague kindly explained to me how one is supposed to tame the wild noodly things. Well, all I can say is that I somehow survived.
The European way I believe is to have the fork in the left hand, the knife in the right and use the left hand to actually eat.I am not so strong with my left hand so I generally do a zig-zag of cutting with the knife on my right and fork on the left and then place the knife down and switch the fork back to the right to eat. Phew! Why does it have to be so complicated? I lose my appetite in the tension of switching it the right way without looking too awkward. With time, I am getting better. But I still have a long way to go to eat a formal dinner without actually thinking about it.
But for heaven sake, at least eat the pizza with your hands. Trust me, it tastes much better that way! :)
P.S - Obviously I am no big artist. But my feeble attempt at cartooning..:)
Picture Courtesy - http://www.tourismofkerala.com