Finger Foods

During my dining workshops I’m often asked about those difficult to eat foods. You know the ones; wings, ribs, iced cake, even pizza and burgers.

Somehow, in the aura of a dining workshop, some people feel that proper dining behaviour always calls for knives, forks, and pinkies. Go ahead, try to wrestle with that wing with a knife and fork. How silly.

Yes, there are some foods that are intended to be eaten with the fingers. That doesn’t mean though that respectful dining habits stay in the drawer with the knife and fork.

  • It might be finger licking good but please don’t. Imagine watching someone savour each sauce coated finger and then reach for another wing, rib, or burger.
  • Napkins. Use them. A lot.
  • Pants are not napkins.
  • If you’re hosting a party and planning to serve messy finger foods also plan for the inevitable messy fingers dilemma. Have lots of napkins and wipes handy. For a lovely clean-up pass around hot-from-the-microwave-damp-washcloths as the airlines do – well, as they did when they still had the frills.
  • Double dipping. Don’t even think about it. Don’t turn the carrot stick around to dip the other end either.  It was held by your fingers.

Watch George from Seinfeld in a double dip moment.

At a recent event my eye was drawn to someone meticulously licking each finger. Mmmmm….that cake must have been good. Lots of gooey icing. They then proceeded to continue to meet and greet other attendees.  That meant shaking hands.  Enough said.

Finger foods are fun and suitable for many occasions. Enjoy them as they’re passed around. Just take the napkins too.

About etiquetteottawa

Founder and Owner of the Protocol School Of Ottawa
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4 Responses to Finger Foods

  1. Heather says:

    Appetizingly stated, Suzanne.

    On the west coast of Canada, we enjoy sushi often and tastefully (pun intended). “Single biters” offered as hors d’oeuvres as well as entree items – do pose a delectable dilemma on correct consumption. While Japanese etiquette recognizes the use of fingers, most commonly chop sticks are the courteous instruments of choice. Use them! Sushi is made with sticky rice that…well..sticks. It is quite distracting to have rice grains on your fingers, chin or sticking to your grin.

    Chopstick are individually packaged – leaving you with 2 clean ends. The tapered ends are used for eating, the blunt ends are for choosing your sushi (sashimi, nigiri, ginger, wasabi) pieces from the serving tray. Learning to use chopsticks requires practice but the feat is a conversational wow.

    Dipping your sushi or the rice side of nigiri in soya sauce will loosen the rice grains and your single biter may fall apart mid-dip. Flavour the fish side of nigiri sushi in the soya and enjoy everything in a single bite.

    Bon Appétit = Meshiagare!

  2. karenhickman says:

    I love those warm wet towels that can be offered. It is a classy touch. Also, I have found when making appetizers with phyllo dough, it is important to make those in one bite portions. This avoids getting all those little crispy crumbs down the front of you.

    • Excellent tip making portions bite-sized Karen.
      I think we’ve all been at events where the caterers seemed more concerned with presentation than how the attendees where to tackle the food.
      Thanks for a great contribution.

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