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Jun 28, 2007 10:06 AM

Forks vs. Fingers [moved from General Chowhounding Topics]

I love food that I can eat with my hands. I have always found it to be a fun and sensual experience.
Now, I would never do this in public, but I have found many of the chefs I work with feel the same way - when we're back in the kitchen, we will dig into our own food with our hands: steak, mashed potatoes, whatever.
However, both my boyfriend and my ex prefer forks. My boyfriend and I go to a restaurant - I order ribs, he gets pasta. Of course, the waiter puts the ribs down in front of my boyfriend. So, I guess it is not really a girl thing.
Maybe I'm just really in touch with my inner child. Maybe it is a chef thing. I don't know.
Which do you prefer? And why?

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  1. I enjoy foods that lend themselves to eating by hand, such as burritos, tacos, sandwiches, fruit, pizza, corn on the cob ... Perhaps it's a primal thing. As a gringo, when I first started eating sushi many years ago I was very serious about using the chopticks correctly, etc. ... After many meals and many years of observation I still use the sticks but also feel free to handle nigiri and maki now and then and enjoy it that way.

    4 Replies
    1. re: misohungrychewlow

      I'm always amazed when Americans try to be "authentic" and eat maki or nigiri with chopsticks. They were invented to be eaten with your hands. Imagine someone in Japan eating a ham sandwich with a knife and fork. Even more amusing is watching someone trying to jam a futomaki into their maw with chopsticks.

      1. re: FrancoAmerican

        It's a cultural bias as well as a false quest for authenticity. At the end of the spectrum, some Swedes and Norwegians have a real aversion to eating the the hands. It's not unusual to see them eat pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches, or apples with a knife and fork. I'd like to see Lars and Swen in an Ethiopian joint ...

        1. re: FrancoAmerican

          Similar to when my boyfriend (embarassingly) demands chopsticks in a Thai restaurant. The Thai don't use them. They are there because silly Americans want to be authentic and use them.

          1. re: FrancoAmerican

            I'd rather see sushi "afficionados" eat sushi w/forks or chopsticks rather than ineptly or clumsily w/fingers. I recently saw two folks who wanted to appear "authentic" by eating sans chopsticks. They lost their sushi in the soy sauce, so they plopped the neta in their mouth and then went digging for the loose rice in the soy sauce dish. Ugh.

            If it can't be done well, don't do it at all.

        2. I love eating with my hands. I lived in Africa for about a bit, where silverware was unheard of... It was awkward at first to learn how to eat rice and sauce with my hands, but once I got the hang of it I loved it. Now that I'm back in the states, husband and I still try to eat this way once in a while.

          I also know some people who are flat-out repulsed by the idea.


          1. This is one area where I like it all or nothing, either everything eaten w/ fingers or none. I have trouble w/ ribs and sides that are eaten w/ forks because you either have to clean your hands between bites, or eat all the ribs, clean and then eat the sides. Crab boils are another meal. Pizza isn't as bad because it's not so messy but switching back and forth is a pain!

            3 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              Ah, yes. It is very important to have one clean hand. I learned this in college (Syracuse University, Back when wings were popular only near Buffalo.) You had to have one hand for the messy saucy wings and one hand for your beer. Otherwise you might get sauce on your beer glass and drop it!
              I find the "one clean hand" technique comes in handy in lots of situations. ;)

              1. re: cheftori

                See, for me, buffalo wings require two hands, especially the two bone ones (not the little drumsticks--what are they called???). So, I have to pick up the beer with the heels of my hands so I won't get it dirty, and still risk dropping it. I wonder if I can fill my camelback hydration pack with beer...;-)

            2. I loooove eating with my fingers. Loooove it.

              esp if it's food that I need to 'process' and pick at like getting meat off wings or ribs. Or food that also gets all over my face like corn or watermelon If I am alone or at home, I sometime eat noodles, pasta etc with my fingers, stirfries, steak strips, oh yeah! If I could, I would eat most everything with my hands but it's sort of frowned upon at restaurants. I never eat mashed potatoes at home but if I did, I would totally eat them with my hands, that would be awesome

              WHY? feels good!

              my husband, however, refuses to eat almost anything with his hands, he hates it. Enither of us are chefs though he does the bulk of our cooking

              1. i like eating with my hands too. had to readjust to forks after returning from india and it still seems like indian food doesn't taste right when eaten off a fork, but i generally follow the table manners of those around me so i use the fork in restaurants. at home i am likely to use interchangably fork, spoon, hands, sticks, all used about equally (but i like a specific tool for some things-- i like to eat salad with sticks for example). i'm a chef.

                2 Replies
                1. re: soupkitten

                  well since i just wolfed a wild rice & walnut salad with my hands i'd like to edit-- i eat green salads with sticks and other salads with my hands whenever i can get away with it.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Oooh, I just love eating green salads with my fingers. There is something so sensual about just picking up leaves of lettuces a bit at a time. Sweet, tender lettuces don't deserve to be skewered ruthlessly by knives and forks.