No Forks Allowed: 9 Foods You Should Only Eat With Your Hands

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Since the Stone Age, humans have used cutlery to cut and carve food — a practice that has evolved to the point where we often use utensils for almost everything, fearing to appear like culinary barbarians if we don’t. However, certain foods are undeniably best enjoyed as nature intended: with nothing but your hands. Here are nine foods that you should only eat with your hands.

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1. Sushi

Sushi lovers might drop their chopsticks in shock to find out that this traditional Japanese food should be eaten with your hands. Hiroko Shimbo — cookbook author, teacher, and Japanese food guru — told Bon Appetit that, except for sashimi (slices of raw fish), which is okay to eat with chopsticks, sushi like nigiri (slices of raw fish over vinegared rice) and tamaki (hand-rolled sushi cones of seaweed filled with rice, fish, and other ingredients) should only be eaten with hands. This is because the loosely packed rice in well-made sushi will fall apart if pinched too tightly.

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2. Pizza

When it comes to pizza, there are two schools of thought: those who opt for the more civilized approach with utensils, and those who champion the grab-it, fold-it, eat-it method. But which one is truly the correct way to eat pizza? 

This is a touchy subject especially in places like especially in places like Italy and New York, where pizza consumption is practically an unofficial national sport. When pizza was first invented in 19th-century Naples, it was a humble food for the poor, typically eaten with your hands. Today, Italian food experts generally agree that while using a fork and knife isn’t wrong, the authentic way to enjoy a slice is to grab it by the crust, fold it, and dive in. This approach not only respects the dish’s humble origins but also enhances the pizza-eating experience by embracing its casual, communal spirit.

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3. Curry Dishes

At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive to eat Indian food with your fingers — after all, with its saucy curries and fluffy rice, it does look like team fork-and-spoon. Yet, this cuisine is traditionally eaten with one’s hands. 

The practice of eating with hands in India dates back thousands of years. Ancient texts and practices, including those outlined in Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of medicine, stress the importance of this method. Not only is it practical for handling the types of foods commonly eaten, like flatbreads and rice mixed with stews and curries, but it also integrates a holistic approach to meals.

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4. Asparagus

Eating asparagus with your hands is more common and accepted than you might think, especially when it’s served as finger food or in a casual dining setting. In fact, in many European countries, including France, it is perfectly fine and even stylish to eat asparagus with your hands during a meal, provided it isn’t covered in sauce. Traditionally, if asparagus spears are served without a heavy dressing or sauce, it’s considered appropriate to pick them up by the stem end and eat the tender tip directly.

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5. Ribs

Eating ribs is and should be a messy affair. Eat it only with your hands, lick your fingers, smack your lips, and wipe your mouth with the back of your hand. That’s it. There’s no other way to enjoy this meal. So eat it with your hands, but maybe don’t order it on a date or a business lunch — we still live in civilized society.

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6. Tacos

No matter how drippy the sauce is, no matter if you find bits of pico de gallo on your lap, never be tempted to use utensils to eat your taco. Embrace the mess! In Mexican cuisine, eating with your hands is a common practice that connects diners to the food’s cultural and historical roots. Tacos, in particular, have been eaten this way since their inception.

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7. French Fries

When you’re eating fries, it should be a cardinal sin not to grease up your fingers. In many cultures around the world, eating fries with your hands is not just acceptable but expected.

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8. Artichokes

Eating whole, steamed, or stuffed artichokes requires a hands-on approach. You start by pulling off the outer leaves one by one. Each leaf isn’t fully edible, so the process involves dipping the base of the leaf, which is fleshier, into your preferred sauce or melted butter. Then, you place the dipped end in your mouth, gently clamp your teeth around the base, and pull forward to scrape off the soft, pulpy part of the leaf. The fibrous, tougher remainder of the leaf should then be placed on your plate. Use a fork and knife for the tender heart at the artichoke’s center.

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9. Burgers

Eating a burger with a fork and knife is like wearing a tuxedo to a backyard barbecue — it just doesn’t mesh. Since their debut at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, burgers have been an American staple, meant to be eaten with hands. 

Yet, today’s burgers are becoming overwhelmingly big, tempting some to reach for the silverware. British etiquette coach and author William Hanson shared a video on Instagram on how you should properly eat a big burger with a fork and knife, saying, “Unless you are in the circus, nobody can fit anything this big in their mouth.” Needless to say, the Americans in the comments — expletives included — did not agree with his approach.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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