Food at Hand:
Eating Finger Foods
Not all foods are meant to be eaten with a fork and knife. Sometimes your hands are the best utensils, as when eating a hamburger or a sandwich or with the foods listed below. Even though they may make your fingers taste finger lickin' good, you should instead use a napkin to clean them. When in doubt about how to eat a certain food, particularly in foreign surroundings, be honest and ask your host or the waiter to explain the proper method. They should be happy to assist.
Peel the leaves off one at a time, then dip in melted butter or other sauce as provided. Put the leaf between your teeth and pull, scraping the tender flesh from the inner side of the leaf. Discard the leaves in a neat pile on the side of your plate. When you reach the thistle-like interior, scrape it out with a knife. You are left with the best part: the tender heart, which you then cut with a knife and fork and dip in the sauce to eat.
Barbecued ribs and chicken pieces
Unless you are in a formal setting, jump right in and eat barbecue with your fingers. These foods aren't usually served at formal dinners, but if they are, use a knife and fork.
Corn on the cob
At table, hold the corn by holders inserted into the ends of the cob. Informal parties, such as barbecues, may serve corn on the cob without corn holders, so hold the ends of the corn cob with your fingers. Don't take bites off the cob randomly, so it looks like a patchwork quilt. Instead, eat it in an orderly fashion.
Tear rolls, muffins and bread slices into pieces before buttering and eating. Tear off one piece that will give two or three bites and finish it before breaking off another piece. If olive oil is served with the bread, pour a small amount into your bread plate and dip broken pieces of the bread into it to eat.
Chicken wings and drummettes
Use your hands; a knife and fork are too awkward.
Raw vegetables served with a dip or as part of a relish tray, such as celery and carrot sticks, are known as crudités. By all means use your fingers to pick them up, but never eat a bite and dunk the eaten end into the dip. Eat whole cherry tomatoes in one bite, otherwise they may squirt and stain yours or others' clothes.
You may use your hands to eat egg rolls and fried wontons. If the egg roll is large, you may also use a knife and fork.
Eat tacos with your hands. If food spills out of them, use a fork to pick it up.
Use your hands to pick the shells of the shrimp then eat with the meat with your hands as well. If the shrimp is served without the shell, use a fork.
Eat olives as part of a relish or crudités tray with your hands. If in a salad, use your salad fork.
What do I do with the pits?
Discard an olive pit by pushing it onto a spoon with your tongue and setting it aside on your plate. For cherry pits and grape seeds, cup your hand over your mouth and quietly place the pit or seed in your hand, then set it on the side of your plate.
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