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Pizza tastes better when eaten with a fork & knife vs. hand held?

I find that when I eat a slice of pizza it tastes better when eating it with a fork and knife, as opposed to picking up the slice and eating it with my hands. My friend disagrees. I think it must be the angle the food hits your mouth is different. If I am at a sit down type of place, I'll use a fork and knife, eating about 1/2 way through, & then switch to my hands as I get closer to the crust. I prefer the taste of the eating it with a fork and knife, maybe the cheese and sauce hitting before the crust does make a difference? Does anyone else notice this?

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  1. That's funny...My first thought was that's crazy, there's no difference, but it may be as simple as cheese and sauce hitting your taste buds vs crust, but then what would I know. I just like to eat!


    1. I think it depends on what type of pizza you're eating. If it's a "gourmet" style, with a thin crust and a variety of toppings, I can see the knife and fork thing. But if you're talking a supernal New York City pepperoni slice, I don't think there's a better way than folding it and eating it out of hand. The crust gives you just enough insulation so that the cheese doesn't burn your tongue on first entry, and then the whole thing just meshes into one delicious bite.

      1. Is it because when you eat it with a knife and fork, you're likely to be in Italy, and everything tastes better when eaten in Italy? That's my totally scientific theory.

        1. the good lord intended pizza to be a large thinish slice, having a crust with both chew and crunch, to be folded in half and eaten with the hand. oh, and in new york city.

          8 Replies
          1. re: thew

            1000% agree. And IMHO, pizza just doesn't taste right off a fork

            1. re: CoryKatherine

              I agree that *if* you're in NYC, that's the way to eat it. Don't agree that the deity intended NYC to be *the* place to eat pizza. That's why he/she/it invented Italy. Well, that and Amarone, and bottarga, and calamari, and vitello tonnato, and panzanalla, and ribollita, and trofie al pesto, and umbricelli con tartufo nero, and etc. etc.

              1. re: tatamagouche

                tata, don't you know that everything New York is not only correct but perfect? You can't criticize anything NYC on chowhound, it's a TOS violation and will get your account deleted. You've been warned.

                Seriously, knife and fork is Italian (and all over Europe) and it's every bit as correct as whatever North Americans do. Seriously.

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  i havent been to napoli, nut honestly - i prefer the pizza in NYC to what i had in rome or florence

                  1. re: thew

                    Prefer it all you want; I prefer it in Italy—and I've had it all over: in Roma, Firenze, Napoli, Palermo, Lucca, Lecce, Verona, Bologna, etc. etc. But in Italy as here, some pizzerias are good and some aren't. You have to be careful about where you go. Still, that's not the point. My point was that, however it has evolved in NY, NYers still owe their beloved slice's whole existence to Italians.

                    Oh, and Perugia. Damn it's good in Perugia.

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      if you want to play that game sure - in that case italians owe their tomatoes whole existence to the americas.

                      1. re: thew

                        Indeed they do. No argument from me there.

              2. re: thew

                Completely agree, but being in NYC is probably the toughest part of that statement. But even if you're not in NYC, it still needs to be eaten this way. Greek pizza (as is often all you can find in the Boston area) just doesn't work the same (nor taste the same).

              3. Funny you should mention that - I'm in Aruba and a friend and I went to Casa Tua which has wonderful thin crust pizza. We both were eating ours "out of our hand" while the people on either side of us were using knife and fork. Both parties were Dutch so I figured that was the reason - never thought of the taste thing. I like to eat "out of my hands" so.......

                1 Reply
                1. re: Linda VH

                  I think the knife and fork for pizza is more European. I just had dinner with a French guy who ate his crabcake sandwich (bread and all) with a knife and fork.

                  If you are eating first by knife and fork and switching to hands once the pie has cooled down a bit, then I'd say the drop in temperature has more to do with your sensation than anything else.

                2. How does eating pizza with a fork enable the cheese/sauce to hit your tastebuds before the crust does - unless you're scraping the top off the crust with the fork, a cut piece will still have the crust on the bottom (which will hit the tongue first) and the sauce/cheese on top.

                  I'm puzzled.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Striver

                    maybe it is because I am left handed. I pick it up with my fork, bring it tom my mouth, and put it in that way so, the cheese hits my tongue 1st, as opposed to picking it up where the tongue touches the crust 1st. Also when it's reall hot the cheese oozes off onto the fork, so you get more cheese wrapping around the fork too.

                  2. To me it definitely depends on what kind of pizza it is.
                    If it is a lovely thin crust - eating it with a knife and fork is the only way to go, however if it is a New York Slice - you absolutely have to hold it in your hand.
                    But I have to add - I am totally against the "folding" bit!
                    It ruins everything for me and I cringe slightly when I see people do it. I know it's a matter of personal preferance, but it doesn't make sense to me and leaves me a bit bewildered!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: NellyNel

                      Of course, if it's Chicago-style deep dish, folding probably isn't the way to go. :-)

                      1. re: NellyNel

                        eating it unfolded puzzles the hell out of me. so much more unwieldy unfolded

                        1. re: thew

                          But it just muddles the taste...
                          AND you simply cannot appreciate the taste layers! Crispy crust, doughy/mushy crust, tomato, cheese, oil....in perfect unison.
                          You fold it, and it all becomes one big mass of mush!

                          1. re: NellyNel

                            no, YOU cannot appreciate the taste layers that way. I can, and do.

                            1. re: thew

                              No need to get testy...Yes I forgot to add the "IMO".

                            2. re: NellyNel

                              I agree with thew; plus, the reason you fold it is, if it's an authentic NY slice, that's the only way to keep the cheese and sauce from sliding off the sides and onto your shirt.

                              1. re: KevinB

                                But you must be careful that you don't tilt it too high into your mouth and the grease makes its way over the back end of the crust. You just need to crease the crust a tiny bit, and eat it.

                                1. re: KevinB

                                  plus, the way i see it, you aren't muddling the layers, you're just doubling them

                          2. I think a Snickers bar also tastes better when eaten with a knife and fork.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Bob W

                              I prefer to eat my pizza by hand, but totally agree with Bob W that Snickers (and Mars) bars taste awesome with knife and fork. It helps you savor the goodness

                              1. re: Bob W

                                That is so weird! Danny Tartabull thinks so too!

                                1. re: Bob W

                                  May we have your opinion on doughnuts, please?

                                2. I am reminded of "Rainman" and his toothpicks.

                                  1. No! For me, all pizza, whether served whole or by the slice, whether eaten in New York, Italy, or Guildford, whether thin or thick crust and regardless of toppings, must be eaten by hand in triangle-shaped wedges that you fold in half or not as you please.

                                    1. It depends on (1) location and (2) how messy the pizza is. If I'm abroad, I'll use a fork & knife; if here, I'll only use a fork & knife on messy pizzas.

                                      There's something very affectionately American about eating pizzas, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc w/your hands....

                                      1. I suppose hand-held vs forked would make a difference if I hadn't washed my hands first; but since I invariably do I see no need for a fork.

                                        Pizza IMHO is handheld peasant food not effete snob provinder and should be enjoyed in the way it was intended. Do you cut slices off of a piece of bread and butter and fork them into your mouth?

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: KiltedCook

                                          OK two questions:

                                          1. Why the hostility towards people who eat with a knife and fork? Is it really so offensive to you that there are those who were raised differently? (Agreed that pizza was originally sold as a street food, but when in restaurants in Europe, that's the way people eat-- 'effete snob' or not.

                                          2. What's 'provinder'? I'm not familiar with this term, nor could I find an immediate answer online, so it's back to you.

                                          1. re: Lizard

                                            I think perhaps s/he meant "provender" - i.e., food or provisions. http://dictionary.reference.com/brows... Although I've always seen it being used as hay or oats for horses when used in novels.

                                            And the Queen Consort Margherita of Savoy might take offense at it being considered peasant food, considering Pizza Margherita was named after her.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              I'm with Lizard and LW—your statement simply isn't correct from a European angle. Unless you're claiming that "effete" and "European" are synonymous, which I'm sure you wouldn't.

                                            2. re: Lizard

                                              Were it not for Chowhound's position that spelling is unimportant, I could tell you that it's "provender" and although it can mean food or provisions, it is usually used in the context of livestock feed. ;-D

                                              1. I think potato chips taste better when eaten with a knife and fork. M&M's and Tropical Dots for that matter, too.

                                                1. This is the EXACT right way to eat pizza!

                                                  1. There are three ways jfood has learned to eat a pizza. And as far as which tastes better.

                                                    1 - By hand. Whether it is the folded NYC method or the point of the triangle method depends on the circumstances. In the midwest you have those crazy little square cuts as well for the bit-sized approach.
                                                    2 - Knife and fork. As someone said, works very well with Giordano's, jfood favorite Chicago stuffed.
                                                    3 - And then there is the "Jody-Method", named after the girlfriend of one of jfood's college friends. And people, you know you have done this or wished you had. Take a slice (wedge east coast pizza pie shaped) and place on a plate, paper plates work fine. Slowly slide the point of which you will bite slightly over the edge of the plate. Bring to you lips and bite off the edge that is hanging over. Very clean, no mess. This works really well with pizza where the dough is not crisp enough to handle the weight of the toppings and using the fold method will make a complete and utter mess of the slice.

                                                    But in reality, if the pizza is good, blindfold jfood and place in front of his mouth on the table, he'll figure it out.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      Well, No. 1 explains the pizza I had at Nello's in Phoenix last week. We ordered a "Murphy" (with onions and bacon - and believe me, it was good), and the large pie came to the table all cut into litltle rectangles, which would be great for a 5 year-old's birthday party, but made for far more pizza acquisition moves than would have been necessary with an east coast slicing approach. Folding, my normal style of pizza-eating, was clearly out of the question. :)

                                                      I suppose if I had asked for it to be sliced "NY style", they would have done so (really nice staff), but I had no idea it would come out that way when we ordered it!!

                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        "This works really well with pizza where the dough is not crisp enough to handle the weight of the toppings "
                                                        well, if this is the case, then this is an unmittigated pizzaFAIL. pizza is all about balance of toppings and crust ratios. If I have to take some unusual precaution or step to eat a slice of pizza, this isnt any pizza I want.

                                                        1. re: nkeane

                                                          hey jfood did not make it he just eats it. But there is a certain place near his office that specializes in the sloppy 'za. Lots of meats and the crust cannot hold. Not jfood's favorite but still pretty good.

                                                        2. re: jfood

                                                          Ha, I've caught my toddler doing a variant of #3 when I put my plate near the edge of the table!

                                                        3. Hand-held.

                                                          So much better when you can lick the pizza grease from your fingers. It's like an aftershot of "pizza-goodness"

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            What about the people who I've seen blotting the grease off with napkins before eating.
                                                            What do you think of Travolta eating two slices stacked while walking in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER.
                                                            I like the hang ten off the paper plate method, for additional support and to keep shirt stain free.

                                                          2. Hand unless it's deep-dish (where knife and fork is the only way to go). The pizza is warmer that way. When you cut off a piece with a knife and fork, it cools a bit as it works my way up to my mouth. I feel that food that's meant to be eaten hot should be eaten hot. btw, I hate eating that cold leftover pizza the next day -- always goes into the toaster oven before it reaches my lips. The second reason I prefer eating it hand held is that there's a satisfaction I get from biting into a slice as opposed to cutting it up. I feel the same way about certain manageable-sized meat chops as well. There's nothing better than holding onto the bone and digging in.

                                                            1. Pizza is best eaten by hand, except deep pan pizza, which is best not eaten at all.

                                                              1. Here's an alternate theory. Maybe it has to do with the amount of chewing. If you are holding the slice, folded or not, you know that it's likely to drip or ooze, and is getting cool from all sides as you hold it aloft, so you may be eating it faster than you would if you were using utensils, with the slice safely on the plate, with its underside somewhat insulated. The longer chewing would allow you to better appreciate the flavors.

                                                                1. you can chomp down a bigger bite when eating by hand, besides ... the whole thing is them up closer to your nose, much more so than a fork and knife bite.

                                                                  I eat mine by hand, depending on how sloppy it is, it just feels right......with a fork close by to catch the bits that roll off onto the plate.

                                                                  I've eaten it with fork and knife though a couple of times in less casual places, but I always feel like i'm restraining myself !!

                                                                  1. you say you start eating it with a knife and fork, and then switch to your hand as you approach the crust end? could it be the difference in crust to topping ratio? you may prefer the taste of the high amount of cheese/sauce/toppings to crust that is in the middle of the pie, versus the more bready crust end.

                                                                    I on the other hand, recognize that pizza is 90% about the crust and 10% about toppings. If you make a lousy crust, there is no saving that pizza. On the other hand, if your crust is perfect, you could put sawdust and axle grease on it and It would still sell!!:-)

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: nkeane

                                                                      Hmmm yes, I do prefer the center more then the edge crust. I would go crustless if I could. I eat them now, sometimes, but when I was a kid, I gave the crust to my mom. I don't like thick crusts only very thin.

                                                                    2. For me, eating pizza with a knife and fork is missing the point, so I can't really comment on the flavor differences. No judgement, but I've never been tempted to do it. Same with folding it, if it's so greasy I have to keep the grease from ruining my clothing by folding it I'm not interested. Also makes it too much like a sandwich- dough on all sides. Not that big on sandwiches when I can have pizza, usually

                                                                      Whatever floats yer boat, in other words. The folding thing offends me for some reason, but i don't know why so I'll chalk it up to my bad.

                                                                      1. What do we think about Sicilian-style pizza? This I can almost imagine eating with a fork and knife. But for me, it's best when eaten in hand while you hold a paper plate underneath it. while walking. in sicily.

                                                                        1. IMO - almost anything tastes better if eaten with your hands. If it is soup, tip the bowl to your mouth and pluck the solids up with your fingers.

                                                                          Gosh that would be glorious. Spaghetti might be annoying, but the meatballs would be tripley delicious. Yes, tripley!

                                                                          1. By hand - no contest.

                                                                            Now, if only one time, i could avoid burning the roof of my mouth

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: harrison

                                                                              another thing the fold helps with ;)

                                                                            2. My answer is Yes.

                                                                              Seriously, if the pizza wants to go sliding off the sides, and if I'm at home or in a restaurant, I'll use a knife and fork on it unless or until it starts to firm up. My favorite pizza in Nashville, Pizza Perfect, tends to have about ten minutes out of the oven before the cheese solidifies sufficiently to stop this lava-flow nonsense. First time I brought one home I set it on the back seat, and when we opened the box all the topping had slid down to one side. After that I made room on the floor.

                                                                              I do love it out of hand, though, especially the minimalist varieties such as Margherita. But ALL cold pizza MUST be eaten from the hand. We can differ on other pizzas, or even on fried chicken, but eating cold pizza on a plate with utensils will send you straight to Hell. With a ten-demon escort.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                brings me to my next thought! This cheese firming effect is exactly why i LOVE cold pizza. I'll eat a warm slice, sure, especially if I'm out or whatever. But for me, there is nothing better than leaving half a box of pizza on the counter overnight and and grabbing a slice the next day. I honestly think it tastes better once it has cooled completely. Is this total blasphemy or is anyone with me?

                                                                                1. re: CoryKatherine

                                                                                  I wouldn't say BETTER, just different. To me the proof of a really good pizza is how good it is the next morning. Good hot pizza is warm in flavor, rich, maybe gooey, savory. Good cold pizza is coolly rich with maybe some spicy bits, firm but mostly tender to the bite, with just enough chewiness to the crust to make it worth eating. I don't leave mine out in the box, but pull the remaining slices apart and wrap them maybe two at a time in Saran Wrap and stick them in the fridge, because I prefer them slightly moist rather than dry.

                                                                                    1. re: CoryKatherine

                                                                                      For me, congealed cheese on top of cold pizza is not appetizing at all. Then again, I didn't go away to college, so maybe that has something to do with it. :-) (Actually, my family rarely ordered pizza - it was maybe a 2x a year "treat" when I was growing up - so I never got into the habit of having cold pizza).

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        Looks gross, takes great. (But I didn't eat it in college either! I waited until I was mature enough to handle it.)

                                                                                    2. re: Will Owen

                                                                                      I am with the part fork and knife part hand crew.

                                                                                      I like to start with a fork and knife, I think it helps me eat it slower and not adhere cheese to the roof of my mouth, which does take away from the taste, as I normally burn my tongue too.
                                                                                      But even once the cheese is cooled, I think I enjoy food more when I eat it slower.

                                                                                      Once you get to a certain part though towards the back it is just easier to eat it by hand. So I like the mixed approach. Really with pretty much any kind of pizza.

                                                                                      Agreed on the no utensils with cold pizza though. I don't know why, but agreed... It doesn't fit the rest of my logical answer, but eating pizza isn't about logic it's about carnal instinct.

                                                                                    3. I adore pizza and have eaten it " out of hand" most of my life, except when it was LOADED! of course. However, while traveling in Northern Italy a few years ago, with a friend who grew up there, she warned me not to pick it up with my hand. Sure enough, when we went to a pizzeria, absolutely everyone was using a knife and fork. I did the same, although I was really, REALLY hungry and cutting took a few more agonizing seconds LOL.
                                                                                      That being said, Italians tend to lean toward very thin crusts and quite uncomplicated toppings, 2-4, max, including any sauce or cheese.

                                                                                      1. I don't find a taste difference, but always eat pizza by hand if possible. It just "feels" wrong to eat with a knife and fork. Maybe it's because it was one of the few foods I was allowed to pick up to eat when I was little and there's still a little kid in me!

                                                                                        1. OK, everyone! Tonight rent the movie "Saturday night Fever" and watch the first 10 minutes of Tony Manero (John Travolta) strolling along 86th St in Brooklyn moving and groovin' to the song "Staying Alive" while eating 2 fresh out of the oven slices by hand stacked and folded properly. You can almost taste the pizza. I always wondered how he kept the grease from running onto his fancy shirt.
                                                                                          Only by hand in Brooklyn, never, ever with a fork!!

                                                                                          1. Definitely with a fork and knife. Under certain conditions I could eat it by hand--if I had to. I think the taste is the same. Especially if the pizza is oily or drippy--which it shouldn't be in the first place--I wouldn't want to eat it by hand, and certainly not walking--unless I was starving and sooo desperately hungry and couldn't sit down anywhere (a very strange situation). Tony Manero may have eaten his pizza by hand--I guess a Brooklyn thing. But, I'm not from Brooklyn, either are my Italian friends who eat their pizza with a fork and knife.

                                                                                            1. I use a fork if the cheese is still molten, then switch to my hand when it sets. I then eat to the crust and butter it and eat it like bread.

                                                                                              1. I prefer to eat pizza by hand. Dogs get the crust-- I have to save stomach and calorie space for the good stuff (cheese).