South Indian meals are usually served in banana leaves. It is believed that these banana leaves give a special taste to the food, when served in it. Another main reason is that these leaves are easily available and this is the only leaf, that has enough space for the food we eat ;-)
There are plenty of interesting usability things, in serving the food.
1. The Leaf is placed such that the larger portion of it comes on the right side of the eater - so that is easy access and also there will be more space to mix the food.
2. Sweets, which are supposed to be had first during functions, are kept at the right side bottom (In Andhra, Pappu is kept at this right side bottom)
3. Rice is served at the center of the leaf (frequently accessed area), so that there is lot of space to create the rice well and then fill it with saambar.
4. Kootu, Poriyal and other side dishes are served at the top, to be taken now and then.
5. Salt and Pickle which should be taken in low quantities are placed at the left top corner (rarely used real estate)
6. Papad is placed at the left bottom, becase that is the only space available :-)
and I m trying to figure out why the leaves are closed from Top to down and not the other way!!!