Have you ever wondered who sets the criteria for which foods are acceptable to eat with your hands? Grilled corn, artichokes and an occasional asparagus spear are okay, but why not tomatoes or string beans? We're coming up on the season of summery food, and I'm anxious to fire up the patio grill. I don't know about you, but I happen to be a hands on kind of eater. I love the whole gloriously tactile experience of eating hand to mouth, so to speak. Fries just don't taste the same eaten with a fork. They must be hand dipped in a large puddle of ketchup and slowly brought to the mouth. And if ketchup gets on the fingers, the fries taste all the more delicious. The same goes for all kinds of grilled foods and dips.
I am known, to cut a large sandwich or burger in half, before picking it up with my hands, but I never eat a taco, ribs or fish and chips with a knife and fork. It's too remote. Finger licking, on the other hand, is right out. I don't care if it is fried chicken. By the way, do Europeans always eat everything with a knife and fork, or is this perception just urban legend?
When eating out, I usually take on the conversational eating style of the dining companion. Personally, I am very good at gleefully diving into both food and conversation at once, speaking gracefully out of the side of my mouth, even when it's full. One dear friend, in particular, not only refuses to use her hands for anything, she only speaks after she has chewed each bite 50 times, and will daintily raise up her index finger in front of her mouth, as a signal for me to wait for her food free response. Needless to say, conversation is slow and lunch goes on for hours. She probably thinks I eat like a pig. However, I do savor every bite, especially if I use my hands. And not to worry. I always use a napkin.
It's so beautifully arranged on the plate -
you know someone's fingers have been all over it.
photo from google images
i am all about using my hands to eat! if there are guidleines, i may need you to tell me. smiles.ReplyDelete
loving the new header each day, or it least seems to be...
This is a charming post! I am with you. And I must say--as others no doubt will too--that you would be a delightful dining companion.ReplyDelete
Dear Willow, As you may imagine, I NEVER eat food with my hands. I do not know whether this is a particularly European trait, but it is certainly de rigeur with all my dining circles whether en famille or in a restaurant.ReplyDelete
Additionally, I have always been instructed [and now know no other way]to eat all puddings with a fork. This can be quite tricky if it also involves custard sauce, but it is possible given correct angling and deft movement to the mouth!!
As for barbecues......best avoided altogether in my view which is relatively easy in Britain where constant rain puts a damper on such things.
Also, I always wondered why it's impolite to cut salad, yet the leaves are so huge! I have a friend who was in a relationship where she was constantly yelled at for talking with her mouth full and spitting crumbs by accident. So she takes small bites, won't lick her fingers even when they are dirty, and holds her hand over her mouth whenever she talks, which makes it hard to understand her. It's annoying and sad that she feels she has to do this even among friends.I think the situation dictates the behaviour.ReplyDelete
Let us all know the rules, if you find out what they are. I confess, however, I will probably ignore them. French fries with a fork? Never!ReplyDelete
Great post, I am sitting here chuckling about the hand to mouth tactile experience! I totally agree about the fries and all the other type of finger licking good foods! That is what makes them so yummy, isn't it?ReplyDelete
I can't even figure out how to eat fries with a fork (unless they're those REALLY skinny ones - then I fork up a whole wad bigger than my mouth & shove them in, ketchup & all). I do lick my fingers quite a bit - I want that last bit of flavor!ReplyDelete
As long as you don't wipe them on your trousers, hands are fine. But just be careful of the notes I have written on my serviette.ReplyDelete
I tend to order a "less messy" food when out to dinner with a group. Something that can be easily eaten with a fork. But around people I know, messy is ok : )ReplyDelete
Hmmmm... You'd do well in the Arab countries, at least outside the cities; to the Bedouin, hands and flatbread are interchangeable eating utensils.ReplyDelete
I'm also with you on this one though I do try to choose my moments. (a big finger scoop of peanut butter out the jar)ReplyDelete
Amusing Julia Childs quote.
I challenge anyone to eat corn on the cob with a fork!ReplyDelete
I'm all for eating some foods with my hands, sometimes using a fork is just too difficult or unnecessary. We were at a friend's for dinner one night and half of us at the table were using a knife and fork and the other half our fingers (me in the finger group) for the same food. I wish I could remember now just what it was we were eating.
Must be in the genes! :) I agree! Personally, I think pecan pie tastes best when the whole slice is picked up and bites taken...especially for breakfast. Yum. And no finger licking...yuck. haha.ReplyDelete
Edith, I expected you to be a proper European eater. Are you saying you never even eat a sandwich without knife and fork?ReplyDelete
Leah, next time I'm in New York to visit my daughter, we must do lunch!ReplyDelete
Oh dear, I am NOT letting my husband near the computer while this post it up. He thinks his fingers ARE utensils. Sometimes, he lifts his pinky and he pushes something onto his fork, as if that makes it okay. My mother is British and my father is American so I do BOTH!ReplyDelete
Most odd, in England we eat cake with our fingersReplyDelete
in the US with a fork.Am not quite sure which side I come down on.
Eat with whatever seems best is my motto.
My mother tried to eat a hamburger with a knife and fork.....!
I'm in my mid sixties but I can clearly remember my grandfather informing me fingers were invented before forks, with a cheeky wink, and making sure my mother hadn't heard him. I think because of that eating with my fingers has always been and continues to be a delicious delight. But, sorry, licking my fingers is part of the deal, unless in company.ReplyDelete
It's a situational thing for me.ReplyDelete
I have noticed in our family that, while one waits to begin the meal till everyone is at table and a blessing of sorts has been said, picking up the odd bit of food and popping it in one's mouth using only fingers doesn't count as actually beginning the meal.
Great post from a true food lover! My husband is a European and was a tad put off by all the finger-eating when he came here. He's also a chef, though, and has since learned its benefits!ReplyDelete
:) The inventor of wet wipes made a fortune because of people like you!ReplyDelete
I read a blog written by an American chef who now lives in Paris. He has commented on Parisians who eat hamburgers with a knife and fork. I will do it if the bun is weak and tends to fall apart but otherwise . . it's finger food!ReplyDelete
The ultimate finger lickin' food is not the Colonel but shish kabobs. You encouraged me to fire up the barbecue this weekend.ReplyDelete
She chews every bite 50 TIMES!! No way. It would take me all day to eat one meal. How funny she is.ReplyDelete
The Blue Ridge Gal
Fries happen to be a personal favorite of mine. In fact, I am addicted to fries. I use my hands and I dunk the fries in a mixture of ketchup and mustard. Spicy mustard if possible. I also like to use my hands to eat green beans and tomatoes and probably more than Miss Manners would agree is cool. Oh well.ReplyDelete
I think finger foods are my very favorite of all. Popcorn, chicken, burgers, pizza, chilled shrimp, lobster, fish'n'chips, scotch eggs, clams on the half shell, corn dogs, corn on the cob, burritos... ahhhh.... finger foods!ReplyDelete
The only finger food I definitely can't stomach is poi. It's a Polynesian dish, eaten regularly as a side dish in places like Hawaii (which is where I tried it). It's literally scooped up with two fingers and scraped off into the mouth on the lower teeth. It's made of fermented paste of taro root, and looks (and tastes) like brown wallpaper paste. Blecccch!
After watching a television program where the culture was to be seated on the rug, with various dishes presented along the length of it, participants sitting cross-legged using only the left hand to gather and scoop, I took note of the varied dishes and flatbreads and when daughter came to tea, that's how she, husband and I enjoyed the middle-eastern dinner I prepared. She still talks of it as one of the best meals she's had, and a really fun time.ReplyDelete
I couldn't agree more.ReplyDelete
I once ate everything with my fingers for an entire day. However, I did use a napkin, because I'm not a complete slob!
Don't think my original comment went through alright? so may be a duplicate.ReplyDelete
It is an interesting questions really.. because it is also a cultural equiette to be aware of.
I agree with Vicki saying Grace first is important -- instead of mindlessly shoveling food into ones mouth. You can eat with the fingers but there is still some rules to follow cleanliness is important and to never be offensive
Dearest Willow, in the old book of European etiquette, it says that game and poultry may be eaten with one hand. I would, considering this maxim, dearly love to see the spectacle of you bringing a haunch of venison to your mouth single handed!ReplyDelete
Do you recall the most titillating scene from Tom Jones where they eat Lobster legs??? It just would not have been the same with a knife and fork.
You are quite right, certain foods should ALWAYS be eaten with fingers; asparagus is a good example. On the other hand, when eating with a knife and fork the most important thing (on this side of the pond) is how they are held. One can tell so much about people simply by the way they hold a knife.ReplyDelete
Now that I think about it, I use my fingers a lot also-- just feels natural and not something I think about too much though I will notice when my friend is using her fork and I am using my fingers.ReplyDelete
Willow you'll be at home in an Indian household. We eat most of our food with our hands - tear our bread , scoop up our rice with the ten fingers that God has blessed us with. An occasional noodle needs a fork, but I'd rather gather the loops with my fingers and shove them down. Welcome home Willow...ReplyDelete
While speaking with a full mouth is a complete no (some people still do it) we eat wit our fingers too (depending on the food of course), especially if at home. Taking a bone to take the meat left over by cutting can be done but normally only in family, not at a restaurant. Globe artichokes or asparagus can be eaten holding them with hands, fires can too but only at a fast food place or at home. We used to eat fruits with knife and fork but that was in previous centuries. It isn't practical any more.ReplyDelete
I love eating using my hands, it feels very regressive.
Oh, I love Julia Child, and the thought of eating good food, hands and all.ReplyDelete
I think it also depends on the culture. My sister lived in the Phillipines for awhile and it's custom there to eat with your hands.
PS: I was going to make the (small, gentle) suggestion, that since you changed your blog look recently, the font is rather quite small. It is a bit difficult to read. Maybe a tad bit bigger font? (Just a thought.) And by all means, blog on! I love your blog & hope you have a lovely weekend, finger food & all!
Me too! (raising hand covered with BBQ sauce). Hands are cool tools for eating as well as other things. I almost always cut my burger in half before tackling it too, but if it has a bun on it, I use my hands to get it to my mouth.ReplyDelete
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Is there a reason why I have never encountered corn on the cob in restaurants here????? ;-)ReplyDelete
The Julia Child quote is great,
and so is the thought of tactile pleasures! :-)
I'm with you on this Willow. Fingers before forks, you know.ReplyDelete
Here, most traditional Botswana food is definitely eaten with the hands. Coming from more of a British colonial background, we were brought up strictly on a cutlery basis. However, I have to say for me, pizza, sandwiches and most fast foods are just definitely finger food! I don't really like eating cake with those little forks either, but will do if company dictates it! :)ReplyDelete
I am of Indian descent and we always eat our food with our hands-the food just tastes better:)ReplyDelete
I thought it was Fingers Whatsisname, but I could be wrong.ReplyDelete
It's a matter aesthetics so far as I'm concerned - not ethics.
Cracking post, though. Almost too hot to pick up!
willow - a timely and splendid post filled with promise - grilled food, eaten with the fingers! oh yes! count me in. kids will eat anything with their fingers, the fork takes some food to a distance for some of its beauty and taste is entirely about the touch. have a lovely day at the manor! stevenReplyDelete
I do have an eat out and an eat in style At embassy dinners in DC I learned to follow the lead of the head of the table. But alone at home with just the fur kids I have been known to play with my food.ReplyDelete
Makes less food more satisfying, saves on washing up and is a wonderful sensual experience.
If we were to face each other during a meal willow (oh, that is such a lovely thought) our topic of conversation would be laughter at how much I manage to spill down me. I am like a big baby and should really have the bib to match.ReplyDelete
I love eating with my fingers and would happily eat most non sloppy things like that.
Hey Willow~~~ I just realized that I do a lot of "hand eating" ! HA!ReplyDelete
I also cut sandwiches and burgers in half! Madame Willow will be hatching her chicks on the 14th!
I love food and friendship and conversation. I was taught good manners as a child, but now I wonder if I have offended anyone by diving into lunch and conversation at the same time and eating with whatever utensil seems appropriate at the moment. I would love to share lunch and conversation with you and would hate to spoil it by being overly self conscious.ReplyDelete
I love eating with my hands, you're right it definitely adds a tactile experience to eating. I've been known to make my whole meal into a sandwich just so I could use my hands and that has led to a number of very interesting sandwiches.ReplyDelete
First - love the tulip header and the selection you've been giving us lately.
As for finger food - I must take issue with you about fries; they should be dipped in a dollop of mayonnaise! (I hate ketchup!)
Fish and chips is fine if you're eating it out of the paper, fresh from the shop.
Who invented those little forks for Corn on the cob, the ones you stab in the ends, to raise it to your mouth?
Otherwise, I agree with Cro Magnon, most people here are concerned with how a knife and fork should be used.
My Mum would cringe at Julia's statement...ha...as for me, since I have no life...it's all finger food...from the knee, to the fingers, to the mouth...how else can you paint a piece of furniture...but I always use a napkin...ha!ReplyDelete
Come on summer, bring on the finger foods!!!
Fingers it is, especially with bacon early in the morning. Willow, you think of the most wonderful things to blog about!ReplyDelete
Having spent much of my "youth" in England and on the "Continent", I do use a knife and fork for most things...yes, even for salads!ReplyDelete
However, I can eat chips with my fingers with the "best of them"!
And the odd slice of pie too... yummy!
Love your ever-changing headers!
♥ Robin ♥
Haaaa! Now I want some fries smeared with ketchup. I love finger foods. And even a bowl of ice cream has been known to see my getting every last drop with my fingers.ReplyDelete
love the post... and eating with your hands is much better eating!ReplyDelete
Willow, do you remember the scene in BECKET when Henry II is is telling Thomas Becket about a new fangled gadget from France called a fork? They tried it out but kept the finger bowls! That was in the 12th Century. Then fast forward to the Seinfeld episode where everyone was obsessed with cutting up the oddest food items with a fork and knife...to include a candy bar!!! Oh what foods these mortals be handling and mishandling! Great post!ReplyDelete
what's wrong with your sleeve, or shirt hem, or the back of your arm? As long as my wife isn't looking, i'll use anything as a napkin!ReplyDelete
FireLight, yes, I do remember that scene in Becket where they are talking about the odd new thing called a fork! That would have been a perfect little tidbit to include in this post. I love that movie, by the way, and actually own a copy in my personal little DVD library.ReplyDelete
Derrick, I know, I am purely an American girl when it comes to the simple joys of ketchup!ReplyDelete
I stand divided on the fork issue. Maybe I took a fork in the road? We need to eat with our hands! Potato Chips, Cookies, Hotdogs. Although I do find myself using a fork for pickles and I cut my corn on the cob (shame!). I do not like sticky fingers very much . Unless I have wetnaps. Then I will really go for the whole finger-food tactile arts. I like Miss Manners but when she isn't around...:)ReplyDelete
There are somethings you just gotta eat with your fingers, hey Willow!ReplyDelete
My husband is Chilean & they eat many different foods with their fingers. It's A.O.K!
I was however raised to have impeccable table manners. No elbows at the table, no talking while you eat, chew with your mouth closed & if absolutely necessary (like when eating a chicken leg) you could say, "Please excuse my fingers" then wait for the nod of approval from the matriarch of the table... And licking the plate, well that was a very BIG NO NO, no matter how delicious the sauce!!
I loved this post Willow!
I love that picture! Food is much more fun when you can use your fingers. The whole French fries thing is a dilemma to me. I usually feel like when I eat them with something that I use a fork with, like grilled fish, then I should eat the fries with a fork too. I try, but usually by the end of the meal, I'm eating the fries with my fingers. Can't help it! ; )ReplyDelete
No finger-licking? No finger licking never?ReplyDelete
I'm not a prolific finger-licker, since I find you don't really get a lot of flavor value for the effort. And I like the strong, tactile interaction of hands on napkin in-between sorties as I eat something messy, especially barbecue. But I don't mind a little finger-licking!
When there's a morsel too small to really convey to the mouth. Some delicious tidbit, stuck to the third finger on the left hand and all it takes is a quick pop in the mouth! Taken-care-of, big smile on the inside.
It's a separate action, of course. When eating with my hands, the mouth really only contacts the food itself. There aren't all these fingertips getting involved, getting in there on that transaction! It's more for in-between proper bites, when some irresistible morsel is espied.
A quick finger-lick every now and then makes me feel all the more pleasurably, insatiably carnivorous. Even if what's being eaten is vegetables! But like you, I tend to watch my dining companion for cues, and observe the prevailing etiquette. At least when eating indoors. Cookouts, that's more "jungle law" at that point. Everybody's eating standing on the grass, trying to balance three things at once - it's understood things get messy. Which is fine!
In my yard...I don't care.
Don't want to know the quidelines... yikes.ReplyDelete
This reminds me of the Lucy episode when her dress is too tight, they are late to the theater, short on tickets and she insist on Ricky standing, too, and chewing her food 50 times...