The Food Bowl:
Refers to the large bowl of food shared by Gambians
at meal times (usually at lunchtime), accompanied by
a set of table manners you might be considered rude
for disobeying. Though toubabs are most often handed
a spoon and chair, Gambians squat around their food
bowl and eat with their right hand—and only
their right hand, as the left hand is
used for rather unclean purposes. You are encouraged
to eat the Gambian way, as long as you wash
your hands first like everyone else.
Other Do's & Don'ts:
method of eating takes practice—grabbing a handful of
rice, closing your palm to squeeze it into a ball, and
then letting it fall forward towards your fingers to
lift it towards an open mouth. When you are called to
eat someone might say let us come and "chop".
Never do a full scale finger licking until the meal
is complete. Also, you should attempt to eat only from
your part of the bowl that is in front of you, as it
is rather impolite to eat from another’s portion. If
you want to take a piece of meat or fish from the centre
of the bowl, tear a piece of it off with your fingers
and set it down in front of you first—never pop it directly
into your mouth. Most often, the host will break the
meat or fish for you and distribute it evenly. With
food bowls, first come, first serve—if you wait too
long for the food to be comfortably cool to handle,
you are likely to miss out on the chow. Conversation
is usually kept to a minimum while eating.
Communal eating bowls are usually made from decorated
or plain enamelled metal which are about 1.5 feet across.