Pizza, burgers, chicken wings, finger foods, cheese boards – food that’s eaten with your hands is indulgent, delicious, and a whole lot more pleasurable. Maybe it’s the added sense of touch, the element of play and exploration, or the way it helps our body connect with the food and digest it better.
If you’re the type who likes to pick at salad leaves, dip your finger in the sauce, or gorge on a grazing table, here’s the justification you need. Next time someone tells you it’s impolite to eat with your hands, fight back with these six reasons why it’s so much better than using utensils.
It’s a real sensory experience
Our hands are there to feel, touch, and explore objects around us, and that includes food. There’s a reason why children love to eat with their hands, and that’s because it involves an element of play and sensory exploration. Eating finger foods is an interactive experience that includes the sense of touch as well as taste and smell, letting us feel the different textures, temperatures, and experiment with mixing the food together.
It can help with digestion
There’s a bonus to engaging the sense of touch when eating finger food – it can help with digestion. The process of digestion starts before we even put food in our mouths, with our body secreting various digestive juices, enzymes, and acids ready for whatever’s coming. Eating with our fingers and exploring the different textures and ingredients with our senses sends a signal to our mind that then lets our body secrete the right type and amount of digestive juices for optimal digestion.
You can eat how you like
The beautiful thing about eating with your hands is choosing how you eat. This is demonstrated in the different ways people eat pizzas – some like to fold their pizzas, others prefer to eat it from the tip, some like to eat from the crust first (freaks!). Eating with your hands means you can deliver the food to your mouth in the way you want most, and that’s why finger foods are considered to be such a tasty treat.
Make the perfect bite
One of the best things about self-serve grazing tables, finger foods, and sharing platters (besides eating with your hands), is being able to create the perfect bite every time. Using our fingers instead of a fork, spoon or knife lets us pick off the ideal amount of prosciutto, dried fruit, cheese, or quince paste. We can mix and match and play around with different combinations to create new flavours and enjoy food that’s perfectly customised to our palate. Ever been left with a scrap of food on your plate that you can’t seem to collect with your knife and fork? It’s time to bring out the hands.
You connect better with your food
Eating finger food establishes a direct connection with the food by removing the medium of fork or spoon. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, eating with our hands means we are infusing our life energy (or Chi) with the energy of the food. This helps create harmony and aids the process of digestion and metabolism of the food into our bodies. When you consider that the food we eat becomes our body as it feeds and nourishes our tissues, it makes sense to establish a connection by using our hands.
Manage your portions
When we’re snacking on bite-size finger food or eating with our hands, we tend to take in smaller amounts compared to utensils. Let’s call it a natural sense of portion control. It’s all too easy to overload spoons and forks with larger bites, and the process of eating is quicker overall. Eating with our hands, on the other hand, is a slower process that engages our senses and some thought or deliberation as we decide how to eat. So we eat slower, get full faster, and feel satisfied without overeating.
How they do it in Africa, India, and the Middle East
Before cutlery was invented, we all used to eat with our fingers. These days, we tend to put our hands away unless we’re indulging in finger food, burgers, or pizza. In Africa, India, the Middle East, and some parts of Asia, they never stopped eating with their hands. Curious about how you can eat rice, curry, and even soup with your hands? Here’s how it’s done in each of those regions:
- India: In India, hands are first washed thoroughly, and only the right hand is used when eating. The roti, naan, or chapati is used to scoop the food, wrap it up, and carry it to your mouth. In India, it’s preferred to lower your head to the plate rather than bring it up to your mouth. Small amounts of food are taken each time (it’s impractical otherwise!), and it’s discouraged to let the food touch the palm of your hand. Oh, and don’t put your fingers inside your mouth – use your thumbs to help push it in.
- Africa: In Central and Southern Africa, food is usually eaten with fufu, a root plant. The fufu is boiled, mashed, and rounded into small balls. When eating, you pull off a small piece of the fufu, make a small indent with your finger, and use it to scoop up your soup or meat. Again, it’s frowned upon to use your left hand when eating, and food is scooped into the mouth with the thumb and first two fingers. Generally, two bowls will be placed on the table, one for washing your hands before the meal and another one for after the meal. Save licking your fingers for when everyone’s finished eating!
- Middle East: In the Middle East, food is served in a communal platter from the centre of the table with pita bread on the side. Take a small amount of the pita bread, open it up, and use the bread to scoop your food into your mouth. Just like India and Africa, using your left hand is discouraged, and hands must be thoroughly washed both before and after the meal.
Want to indulge in finger-licking finger food?
How about enjoying a mouth-watering smorgasbord made by your very own private chef? We’ll work with you to design a menu full of your favourite ingredients and flavours, and you can even watch your chef prepare the food before your eyes. Ready to eat with your hands?
Looking for the perfect venue for your next event? Please check this venues:
Blue Oasis – Waterfront views and a cool, contemporary interior are the highlights of this new restaurant in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. The kitchen at Blue Oasis focuses exclusively on NSW ingredients, with three sun-drenched terraces and decks to enjoy local cocktails and tapas.
Glebe’s Eats – This funky venue is in the heart of chic inner city suburb Glebe, with open-air bars and live music stages that are perfect for parties and events. Host a cocktail in the leafy beer garden or dance late into the night while enjoying midnight nibbles.
Surry Hills Rooftop – A multi-purpose venue space that is suitable for both private and corporate functions. Throw a cocktail party on the sunny rooftop, host a meeting in our well-lit boardroom, or use the big communal kitchen space to host lunches or dinners.
The Retro Space – Old world Sydney meets the bustling flow of the city in this charming venue in the heart of Sydney CBD. Set in Australia’s first fine-dining restaurant, The Retro Space is an extravagant venue that includes a ballroom, two bars, grand piano, private booths, and more.