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Devagi Sanmugam

Eating with your hand/fingers

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My mother would break up small morsels of food with her fingers before feeding it to me when I was very young. I trusted the love that was transmitted through her fingertips. I could eat everything that she fed me coz I knew it was the right temperature and that it won’t burn my mouth; the food would have been broken to fit my mouth and mixed with the right amount of curry so that I could swallow the food and make it slide down my esophagus. I am one of those who believe that Indian food should be eaten with the fingers. Eating Indian food with our fingers improves the taste of the food greatly.

Eating with the fingers is sensual and liberating. According to traditional Indians one's taste buds can actually get awakened with the touch of one's fingertips. We are not just eating with the mouth alone, but also with the eyes, nose and fingers………. visual presentation, aroma and difference of textures are what make the difference between a good meal and a great one, right?

Our fingers are very sensitive to touch and so can help our enjoyment of food because not only are the fingertips centres of acupressure, but each fingertip relates to one element of the universe: air, water, earth, fire and ether. Another important reason is that our fingertips transmit emotions. Our fingers happen to be the most hygienic eating tools that we have.

And who said the other races don’t use their fingers? The Japanese use their fingers to eat sushi; the British eat their fish and chips with their fingers, the Americans eat their burgers and corn on the cob with their fingers and people from practically every country in the world use the fingers to eat something or another.

Well, to enjoy food, use your fingers. But keep your fingers clean, wash your hands before you eat. Keep nails short and if possible no nail varnish. Eat only food cooked with good authentic ingredients otherwise you end up with yellowed fingernails due to the use of adulterated ingredients in the cooking.

Well good food is always "finger licking good" not "spoon licking good" right? It's 'tastier' to lick our fingers than a metal spoon or fork.

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Welcome to eGullet, Devagi!

I too enjoy eating with my fingers, and do so often, when I can get away with it. Which isn't quite so often in the US--while it's true that we do have a lot of casual foods that are meant to be eaten with the hands, more formal dining places tend to frown on one going after one's asparagus with the fingers, to give just one example. But the Etiquette Police can't see me when I'm at home! :laugh:

Speaking of which ... it's been a long time since I ate Ethiopian food, but I always adored how one used chunks of the yummy flat injera bread as one's only utensil (both dish and food-scoop).


Edited by mizducky (log)

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[...]Eat only food cooked with good authentic ingredients otherwise you end up with yellowed fingernails due to the use of adulterated ingredients in the cooking.[...]

Just plain unadulterated turmeric will do that. :biggrin:

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[...]Eat only food cooked with good authentic ingredients otherwise you end up with yellowed fingernails due to the use of adulterated ingredients in the cooking.[...]

Just plain unadulterated turmeric will do that. :biggrin:

Yeah.

Little fish coated in turmeric powder and fried....Mmmmm....

eG needs a drool icon, like, ASAP!

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...more formal dining places tend to frown on one going after one's asparagus with the fingers, to give just one example.

MizDucky, Hi....

If they choose to frown let that be their problem and not yours. Even in the most posh restaurants it is perfectly acceptable to use the fingers to eat asparagus, or to finish off lamb chops, ribs, chicken bones and shell- fish. And, because good sauces are often the greatest pride of chefs, it is always appropriate to use bread to mop up whatever sauce remains on one's diner plate. As a rule of thumb, in inexpensive places, take a small piece of bread in hand, dip it in the sauce, and eat it. In truly fine restaurants, unless you have already earned a reputation for being an eccentric, it is considered proper to break the bread by hand, place it on the plate and spear it with a fork to pick up the gravy. It is never appropriate, however, in anything but the lowest priced restaurants, to lick one's fingers.

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It is never appropriate, however, in anything but the lowest priced restaurants, to lick one's fingers.

I suppose then, it's also quite inappropriate to lick the plate as well? :wink:

edited to add: Welcome, Devagi!


Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

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fingers are good.

My wife grew up eating fried or BBQ chicken with a knife and fork. Her and her father still do. I find it absurd to try to eat these things this way. Quail or cornish hens are too small to eat well with a knife and fork. These are finger foods.

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It is never appropriate, however, in anything but the lowest priced restaurants, to lick one's fingers.

I suppose then, it's also quite inappropriate to lick the plate as well? :wink:

edited to add: Welcome, Devagi!

Of course, there is an inherent danger in making food TOO finger-lickin' good, as William Kitchener indicated in his "Cook's Oracle" in 1845 - in his little piece on that great Anglo-Indian thing called a "devil" .

I posted a transcription of the piece on the Adventures in Eating forum, at

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=88987

Take care with that delicious finger-food!

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I, fortunately, or perhaps not so, am left handed. Yes, sinister, I know. A lower mortality table, too! Many of my Asian AND Middle Eastern friends' parents do NOT approve of my left handedness at the table. My father (of Syrian descent), who was born left handed and is now right handed, was punished severely as a child, for each instance of left handedness. So, I adore Ethiopian, Indian, African, Chinese, basically ALL Eastern hemisphere food, but I am careful to chant in my head, "right hand, right hand, right hand in the food". :unsure: I just don't ever want to offend anyone, so I try my best not to use the fingers of my left hand when I'm eating in public.

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This aspect of behavior at the table is - as everything else for that matter - culturally bound. No universal rules apply here, and to try to do so, would mean to miss the particularities of the various cultures.

Cutlure of course is not only geography but also the social class, the profession, the food, and other factors.

For example, construction workers are bound to eat with their hands.

To give another, do you eat crab legs wih nife and fork?

In Greece it is accepted that chicken legs, small to medium fish and the fish head, require the use of hands. This applies to ordinary restaurants and tavernas. Not to posh places.

As a final comment, I would add that what is important is what you eat, and not whether you use your hands or not. A fellow e-Gulletan commented that scooping the sause on the plate with bread is some times the most important aspect of enjoying a dish. In some instances this requires using your fork. But the essence remains the same.

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The construct known as 'social acceptability' can sometimes amount to plain simple bullshit. Why is it wrong to lick your fingers if the sauce is so damned good that you simply must have that last bit? Is it because the staff might look at you funny? Are the papparazzi watching?

Ask for a finger bowl and go for it if you really must. I wouldn't care. And if you have to entertain or eat with people who might frown and for whatever reason their opinion might matter, such as someone you're schmoozing or whatever, then for heaven's sakes, order something you know won't tempt you. Think ahead.

Hell, for Rogov to say never, well, tell that to the guy eating the most fantastic BBQ ribs at a hog-stand... tell that to my grandmother.

Sure, there relativism applies to cultural sensitivities so on and so forth, therefore, the pronouncements of absolutes is plain nonsense.

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I can't help thinking of the Seinfeld episode where people are eating Snickers bars with a knife and fork. :wacko: This also usually comes to mind whenever I see people eating pizza with a knife and fork. (I do, however, use a spoon when I eat soup.)

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One of my old girlfriends used to eat doughnuts with a knife and fork.

Of course, if soup comes from my kitchen, it is likely as not that it was sampled for spice and seasoning using a finger instead of a spoon.

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I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who dragged a "friend" of hers with us to a large company picnic, thrown by the company owner, who is another friend of our group. The "friend" proceeded to attempt to eat peel & eat shrimp with a knife and fork! After the party, I remarked to my friend who had brought her that she was a pretentious, pompass jerk (which the "friend" soon proved to be true by attempting to sue our real friend for damages from a minor car accident!) Just shows to go ya! :rolleyes:

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I like to use a knife and fork for most things only because I don't like sticky finger and I'm nowhere near pretentious or pompous. Maybe a little nerdy...

I do corn on the cob with fingers tho...

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I like to use a knife and fork for most things only because I don't like sticky finger and I'm nowhere near pretentious or pompous.  Maybe a little nerdy...

I do corn on the cob with fingers tho...

:blush: Sorry Iris, no dis intended, but at a picnic, in a park with decent facilities handy, when you're wearing shorts and a tee shirt? Pompous! (thanks for the spell check, though!) :laugh:

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I like to use a knife and fork for most things only because I don't like sticky finger and I'm nowhere near pretentious or pompous.  Maybe a little nerdy...

I do corn on the cob with fingers tho...

:blush: Sorry Iris, no dis intended, but at a picnic, in a park with decent facilities handy, when you're wearing shorts and a tee shirt? Pompous! (thanks for the spell check, though!) :laugh:

Hamburgers (unless their really thick and runny), hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob. I'll do with the hands. I really don't like to eat ribs with my fingers because I hate sauce under my nails. At a picnic in the park with my family we know to bring plenty of knives and forks because I'm not the only neatnik! :wacko:

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I have always thought that certain foods taste better if eaten with your hands. I never could figure out a reason for it though.

I freely admit that at home I will probably eat pork chops or steaks with my fingers. I am always a little embarrassed but much happier.

I have a lefthanded daughter. I never realized how important right handedness was in some other cultures. Would you mind elaborating please.


Edited by Becca Porter (log)

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All of my favorite foods are best eaten with my hands. Blackberries, crab n- butter, artichokes, red meat, chunks of blue cheese w/ walnut bread, drippy tacos, oysters. I will nearly *always* eat with my hands given the chance. I like the different textures and temperatures, stickiness earns bonus points. And since I do multiple grungy projects around the house, prepare all of our meals and avoid most societal functions I no longer wear rings or bracelets and keep my nails super short, making my digit-al chow-fests fairly sanitary.

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I have always thought that certain foods taste better if eaten with your hands. I never could figure out a reason for it though.

I freely admit that at home I will probably eat pork chops or steaks with my fingers. I am always a little embarrassed but much happier.

I have a lefthanded daughter. I never realized how important right handedness was in some other cultures. Would you mind elaborating please.

In many (maybe all) Middle eastern countries one easts only with the right hand because the left is used for erm, personal hygene. :blink: I don't know if this is based on a religious tenent or not, so I can't draw any other observations.

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I love eating certain foods with my fingers...I think it's so sensuous, and enhances my enjoyment.

It's something I do often in front of my family (to my mom's disapproval :blush:) but not something I would do in front of company.

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I have always thought that certain foods taste better if eaten with your hands. I never could figure out a reason for it though.

I have a lefthanded daughter. I never realized how important right handedness was in some other cultures. Would you mind elaborating please.

In many (maybe all) Middle eastern countries one easts only with the right hand because the left is used for erm, personal hygene. :blink: I don't know if this is based on a religious tenent or not, so I can't draw any other observations.

1. Re food eaten with hands tastes better = it's adding more dimensions

to the sensual experience. Like the last Shah of Iran supposedly said,

eating your food with a fork and knife is like making love with your

clothes on....

I know in Indian parenting lore (like Devagi mentioned) hand-feeding

a child is said to enhance the bond, connection, love etc.

Spoon-feeding is now more common, but many grandmas

don't approve of using a cold metal implement to put distance

between mom, baby, and food......

2. Re religion and handedness = in Hinduism and Islam yes,

that's the reason (left hand = personal hygiene and right hand = food,

rituals, etc.). Maybe same for Judaism?

That's why under Shariah law, it's more serious than

one may think when a thief has the right hand amputated.

In communal eating cultures (large platter of food in the middle,

all sit around and partake) not having yr right hand can = starvation....

My husband is left handed, but knows not to bring his south paw

anywhere near the food when in India (and try eating runny

rasam-and-rice off a banana leaf with your non-dominant hand -

only true love would pass this test) :biggrin:

Milagai

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Shall we bring in the gender aspects to this? I know that women are often stereotyped (correctly, if my observations are correct) as being more "picky" with foods that can be eaten with fingers.... especially pastries and sandwiches.

I am extremely guilty of breaking off teeny tiny chunks of cookie before eating them, rather than biting directly off the whole cookie mass....

Andrea

in Albuquerque

http://foodpart.com

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