I love to eat with my hands. My personal view on food is that the harder I have to work for it, the more satisfying it is. That being said, I love to eat things like crabs and lobsters, muscles, grilled king prawns still in the shell, artichokes, chicken on the bone, lamb chops…the list goes on. Finger foods are king in my book, and I really love to eat foods from all over the world that traditionally are eaten with the hands (even if they are messy).
At the same time, I was raised in a civilized American home where normal people ate with a fork and knife and tried not to make a mess (I was never really good at this). I do realize that not everyone finds eating with your hands appropriate, and usually try to behave according to the rules of etiquette of my host (be it a person, or a place).
Always, when I am in a new place, I make it a point to sample their traditional foods. When I went to Copenhagen to study, the first thing I did was find myself smorgasbord (small open-faced sandwiches, traditional to Denmark), the perfect little finger food I thought.
You can imagine my dismay then, when they were served to me with a fork and a knife. Why on earth would anyone eat a sandwich that is no more than 2 bites with a fork and a knife I thought? I ate it with my hands, and got a few strange looks from some people at the bar.
I was studying in Denmark for 8 weeks, and in that time I noticed that everything was served with a fork and a knife. Sandwiches big and small, pizza, hamburgers, tacos…everything but those amazing hot dogs from street vendors (which became my favorite food there for sure…especially the bacon wrapped ones)!
Most European nations tend to eat properly with a fork and knife. The fork in the left hand, the knife in the right. Keeping both utensils in their hands through the meal. This is something I’ve never really been any good at. Like any average American, I tend to use my right hand for both fork and knife, alternating the fork to my left hand only for cutting. Also like most Americans, I cut everything on my plate before I begin to eat. While I may have gotten a few strange looks for eating with my hands, no one was going to really hold this against me in Denmark…so I ate my pizza and smorgasbord with my hands regardless. However, there are some parts of the world where food etiquette is hugely important, and it is a good idea to respect their practices.